Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Chilean Wine: The Angels of Montes

Chilean wine is a special thing for me. I love the dark nature the wines often take on, and I love thinking of the beautiful mountain backdrop for the vineyards. The virtual wine tasting session for Montes Wines was in mid-February, and I was lucky enough to be invited to join as tasters tasted and winemaker Aurelio Montes chipped in his observations throughout the event.

Montes offered that "Chile is developing new varieties. In the future, you will see new and exciting varieties and styles. Blends are a new focus." Explaining the unique Colchagua Valley terroir of the vineyards from which his fruit comes, Montes said, "it is the granitic soil with some iron oxide in the middle, and very old clay that allow the vines grow without water." He tweeted about the winery’s ecological concerns, saying, "we not only take care of the environment, we also take care of our team, suppliers, and importers around the world. Our philosophy in winemaking is all about equilibrium and harmony."

He even explained those wonderful illustrations on the labels, done by the iconic artist Ralph Steadman. "Our cofounder Douglas Murray believed angels protected him," he said. "He wanted the same for Montes so he put angel images on every bottle." The cherub depicted is Alfredo, named after a founding partner of the Montes label.


Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah 2015

The grapes for this rosé come from the Archangel Estate in Marchigûe, their estate that is closest to the ocean. Alcohol is 13.5% abv and it’s 100% Syrah with no oak to get in the way of the fruit. It sells for $15.

This pink wine is not shy, it commands attention right out of the bottle. Pouring up a bright cherry red, it looks like a Spanish rosado. A whiff brings into focus some truly earthy strawberry and cherry aromas. There is a great deal of stemmy greenness in that whiff, too. The palate is lush and fruity but there is an awesome acidity that makes it so fresh the day will turn into spring all around you, no matter what season it is. Twitter contributors suggested pairing it with Mexican spiced salmon or a tuna poke. It was great with smoked mahi mahi.


Montes Twins Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

As the name suggests, it’s a 50/50 mix of the labeled grapes.  With this blend you get smooth texture from the Malbec and rich structure from the Cab. It is only 14% abv and nearly half of the wine was aged for ten months in new French oak barrels. The growing season featured a cooler than normal spring with some temperature spikes in the summer. It retails for $15, a great price.

It’s a dark wine, in shading and aromas. The whiff gives off smokey and earthy notes of blackberry and cassis, but the savory stuff is what comes forward the most. On the palate it’s dark as well. Plums, berries, spices - all dark. There are flavors of campfire and anise covering the black fruit like a blanket. Great acidity lasts into the finish.


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