It’s been a while since I fired up a Monte Platinum, and to tell the truth I was a little hesitant about this one. Back in the day they used an Indonesian wrapper that really put me off my oats, but they switched to a San Andrés maduro which has made a big improvement. Even so, this one has been languishing in my humidor for a couple years.
The “Cigare des Artes” line was introduced by Consolidated Cigar in 1998 (before the company was swallowed up by Altadis USA) as a fuller bodied version of the standard Montecristo. The original line had a Nicaragua wrapper, and the packaging was extravagant: cedar-wrapped cigars in aluminum tubes sold in specially decorated boxes or ceramic jars.
The art chosen for the line was unusual for the American cigar market: the paintings of French artist Michel Delacroix, most of which feature cityscapes of Paris and its environs prior to World War II. He paints in the “naif” manner — a simplistic, folksy style that ignores perspective and looks sort of like the art of Grandma Moses. Given the slick, cosmopolitan images used in cigar advertising today, this isn’t what I expect to see on a cigar box.
The painting commissioned for this line is called “Montecristo Royal,” a crisp looking winter scene of the city that includes a huge sign on a building that reads “Montecristo Fine Cigars” with the Montecristo logo. The sign looks out of place, just as the painting does on a box of cigars. It took a while, but eventually I began to see its charm.
When the original “Cigare des Artes” blend was discontinued in 2002 it was replaced by the Platinum blend, but the commercial vitolas and the artwork still bore the impression of Michel Delacroix. The 7.25 x 52 double corona up for review here is called the “Royale Delacroix.” This size was discontinued in 2004, so this stick has a few years on it. (I received it in a trade about two years ago.)
The wrapper on this slugger is a Habana 2000 grown in the San Andrés Valley of Mexico, normally known as a great producer of maduro wrapper. The binder is Nicaraguan, and the filler is a blend of leaves from the Dominican Republic, Peru and Nicaragua. And like most (if not all) Montecristos, it is rolled in the Tabacalera Garcia factory in La Romana, DR.
The wrapper on this cigar is dark, nearly maduro, with a lot of oil. The overall appearance is rough, but attractive nevertheless. The roll is solid and the draw is just right. It lights up easily and starts to build a solid light gray ash.
The first third is marked by a sweet hickory flavor and a mild body. For the first inch there’s just a hint of bite, but this vanishes as some cocoa flavors make an entrance. Into the second third the finish grows and leaves an earthy aftertaste. The flavors get a little more chocolatey but in a muted rather than a robust way. A good contrast is the RP Olde World, which has similar flavors but articulates them much better. The aroma up to this point is of sweet wood and is generally quite pleasant.
After an hour I find that I’m becoming bored with this cigar. It’s burning well and tastes fine, but it’s lacking in substance. Maybe if I were sitting in a Paris cafe, circa 1895, watching the snow fall on a horse drawn carriage while I sipped my coffee, perhaps then I might find the patience to smoke this big boy to the end. As it is now, in the twenty first century, watching the jets streak across the night sky bound for Nellis AFB, I’m ready to call it quits.
The Montecristo Royale Delacroix is fine cigar, no doubt. Fans of mild to medium bodied cigars will find this double corona very enjoyable, but if you’re looking for a little more flavor, you may want to look elsewhere.