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Troplong Mondot: 2019, 2009, 2005, 1998, 1990, 1988 & 1955

February 25, 2023

One of the real gems of Saint-Émilion is Château Troplong Mondot, not that it isn’t unheard of but, rather, people who have drunk Troplong Mondot would not have realised its unique qualities. Founded in 1745 by Raymond de Sèze, the estate passed to a certain Raymond Troplong in 1850 who combined his name with that of the land (Mondot), hence its name. Subsequently, the Thienpont negociant family came into possession before selling on to the Valette family, which ran the estate from 1936 till 2017, and it was during this stretch that the château finally achieved its full potential under the stewardship of Christine Valette who produced the wines from 1980 until her untimely passing in 2014. Till this day, the triumvirate of 1988-1990 is still spoken of in the same breath as other exalted estates, as is the 1998 and most of the vintages from 2000 onwards. Key to Troplong Mondot’s success lie in its terroir, sited on a gentle mound 110 metres above sea-level where there is a substantial deposit of clay covering the usual limestone. This elevation facilitates even drainage during wet months while the clay helps to retain moisture during the hot months, preventing heat stress. The harder clay also forces the roots of the vines to dig deeper, resulting in greater power and complexity to the wine. This kind of terroir is found nowhere else in Saint-Émilion, reminding me very much of the same kind of land that Château Pétrus sits on in Pomerol.


Planted nowadays with 73% merlot, 16% cabernet franc and 11% cabernet sauvignon (average age close to 30 years), the winemaking is minimalist and lesser new oak is used, allowing its natural qualities and power to shine. And it was certainly a wonderful privilege to glimpse the château’s development through a generous tasting of several vintages spanning six decades at an exclusive “Home Away From Home” event dedicated to Château Troplong Mondot at Chapter 1, Singapore, on 23 February 2023, very kindly hosted by Hervé Aymond of Corndale Consultants, where the entire restaurant had been transformed into a Troplong Mondot residency. CEO and winemaker Aymeric de Gironde (he says the river had been named after his family) was present and he’d brought along Michelin-star chef David Charrier from the estate’s restaurant Les Belles Perdrix too, as well as several other staff members, to prepare dinner. One is struck by how well the wines are made, each reflecting its terroir and respective vintage without any glossy excesses. The post-2000s are quite exceptional whilst the earlier ones are simply beautiful, a testament to the talent of Christine Valette. Even the 1955, neither a standout vintage nor a time when Bordeaux was great, is still showing well. Merci beaucoup Hervé, Aymeric, David and all for a superb evening.


2011 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs. Pale luminosity. Effusive in toast and yeasty tones amid a dominant earthy pungency. Concentrated in dense yellow citrus that impart explosive power whilst its soft luxurious bubbles caress the palate with delicate open intensity.

2019 Château Troplong Mondot. Deep ruby. Highly aromatic in perfumed characters of dark rose petals and currants with a trace of vanillin. Highly supple and rounded, beautifully integrated with smooth sophisticated tannins. Impeccably proportioned and balanced, imbued with sublime acidity and juicy succulence, developing subtle glowing power in the glass. Already elegant and accessible at such an infantile stage. Clearly destined for greatness. The third vintage of Aymeric de Gironde since joining from Château Cos D’Estournel in 2017.

2009 Château Troplong Mondot. Poured from double magnum. Impenetrable deep garnet red, proffering a delicious bouquet of dark currants and black cherries that light up the slick palate with considerable power and lithe intensity, yet displaying great harmony and cohesion, finishing with superb length. Still barely evolved but will be outstanding in time to come.

2005 Château Troplong Mondot. Deep garnet, proffering powerful swathes of deep dark fruits and currants that exude a teasing lifted fragrance. Very smoothly delineated with excellent density of cool ripe fruit, showing early secondary characters. Highly integral between the fruit and refined acidity and svelte tannins, taking its time to reveal its layers with considerable power and great finesse, finishing with lasting persistence. One is truly drinking the vintage.

1998 Château Troplong Mondot. Deep garnet with just a trace of bricking at the rim. Somewhat earthy with forest characters though the presence of copious dark fruits beneath is clearly evident even on the nose. Highly supple and fleshy with a bit of medicinal warmth tinged with capsicum, showing good harmony and detail with understated power. Very lovely and elegant indeed. A true reflection of that outstanding Right Bank vintage.

IMG-20230223-WA0028.jpg1990 Château Troplong Mondot. Tasted blind. Sporting an intense deep crimson (pictured here), this wine is still so incredibly youthful, wonderfully full and vibrant, still laced with traces of enamel and vanillin. Highly integral, seamlessly combining its exuberant power with absolute harmony in a delicious complex of red fruits and currants and unobtrusive tannins that danced with great agility. Feels like less than 10 years! This legendary 1990 will be truly immortal. Simply incredulous.

1988 Château Troplong Mondot. Poured from magnum. Deep crimson. Refreshing lift of darkish fruit tinged with some capsicum, gently delicious. Fleshy and very well layered, not drying out, wielding excellent power with crisp articulation and freshness. Still as good as my last encounter in 2012 at Eleven Madison Park, New York. Highly successful.

1955 Château Troplong Mondot. Tasted blind. Brilliant color. Quietly intense on the nose, marked by herbal characters, dried mushrooms and old leather. The medium-full palate is still, amazingly, quite fresh with slick acidity, boasting a very fine presence of darkish fruit set just a little backward with a distant sur-maturite, imbued with a trace of medicinal powder. Considering that the estate wasn’t in the best shape back then, this 1955 is truly astonishing. What a privilege to have tasted it!



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