Apalta, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Adding the Montes wines to our portfolio in 2015 was the realisation of a long-held ambition, after many years of admiring what Aurelio Montes was achieving in Chile. Taste the wines and find out why we feel that way. The Sauvignon Blancs are lifted and fresh, their varietal character derived from growing the grapes in the right place and picking them when they are ripe and not, as many in Chile seem to do, by picking them green in order to ensure an herbaceous character which displays what they think is the mark of the variety. The Merlots, Malbecs and Cabernets have lovely colour, intensity and definition, and supple tannins. This is rare in Chile.
So how do they do it? Not surprisingly, in the vineyard. They learned, when they started producing Montes Alpha in 1987, that they needed balanced yields and to harvest when the grapes were ripe. They adapted these practices to all their vineyards and the results are startling. Montes' own vineyards cover 75% of their requirements. The other 25% of fruit is produced on vineyards they have planted, cultivated and picked. In other words, they control everything except the ownership of the land. In addition to this control over the vineyard, they also sell in bulk what is not good enough to go into the bottles that carry their label. Having made the selection in the vineyard, they are able to make a further selection in the winery. The results are there for you to taste.
'Purple Angel', 'Folly', Alpha 'M' and 'Taita' are the pinnacle of Montes' premium winemaking. All four are highly sought after, each an example of the very best wine the country can produce.
These wines were created as a result of the latest challenge that Aurelio Montes set himself. He wanted to push Chilean viticulture further in the premium direction by finding sites that hadn’t previously been planted. The 45 hectare Zapallar vineyard in the Aconcagua Valley was Montes’ first venture into the ‘outer limits’. It is seven kilometres from the sea, so cool nights and foggy mornings ensure a long growing season, making it ideal for Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Syrah. The Pinot is lively yet elegant, the fruit intense thanks to yields of five tonnes per hectare. The Sauvignon, fermented and aged solely in stainless steel, is pungently aromatic on the nose and dry and steely on the palate. The Syrah shows cool-climate qualities of freshness and minerality. The ‘Wild Slopes’ CGM is from the Apalta estate (where the vines are planted at a density of 12,000 per hectare). The blend, rather than the location, is the ‘outer limit’. Made from Carignan, Grenache and Mourvèdre, it is a classic Rhône blend with lovely freshness allied to a liquorice-scented intensity. The ‘Old Roots’ Cinsault is made from dry farmed, head trained vines grown in the Itata Valley, where the first grape varieties were planted in Chile 500 years ago. This wine is wonderfully fragrant and structured and displays bright fruit and acidity.