Montes Trio Tasting: Three Diverse Wines to Enjoy All Summer

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Estate: Montes was established in the late 1980’s by four wine professionals with the goal of crafting “Chilean wines a quantum-leap higher in quality than the standards” that were currently in practice. Founder and winemaker Aurelio Montes professes “80% of good wine comes from the vineyards and only 20% from the cellar”. With that in mind, the estate not only employs sustainable viticulture, they also aim at conserving the environment. Currently they have conserved 400 hectares of indigenous forest in the Maule region, along with protecting biological corridors that enable the natural development of both plant and animal life. Preservation of the environment has resulted in the estate [including both farming and winemaking activities] to be Carbon Neutral as the forest absorbs all of the CO2 produced from both agricultural and winemaking activities. [Certified Sustainable, Carbon Neutral and Fair for Life]

Philosophy: “To make wines of the highest quality while caring for the environment and our people and developing a sustainable culture in every phase of production.”

The following 3 wines are wonderful companions to summer activities, from patio sipping to barbecues to quiet dinners.

Montes Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards with granite and clay soils located in the Leyda Valley. The Sauvignon Blanc is unique in that it is harvested 21 days earlier then normal. Similar to Beaujolais Nouveau, it is the very first Chilean Sauvignon Blanc to hit the shelves each year.
100% Sauvignon Blanc
12% Alcohol
$16 [average price]

Tasting Notes: Pale straw in colour with sunny aromas of lemon, white flowers and grass. Bright and crisp, with fresh tropical fruit [pineapple, kiwi] gliding over an herbaceous, lemon drenched backbone complimented by a food friendly acidity. Lemon and lime notes linger on the zippy finish. A perfect pairing with salty foods, it was fantastic with buttery popcorn.

Pairing suggestion from the Winery: Sushi, ceaser salad, ceviche, shellfish, veggie pastas, lemon chicken.

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Montes Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2016

The Montes ‘Alpha’ line was the first premium Chilean wine. The line is also noted for its sustainable dry farming method developed by Aurelio Montes, where “nature waters the vines. If rainfall is insufficient for vine growth and development, the winery supplements with minimal irrigation to compensate for the difference. The result: 65% less water usage, and lush, elegant wines.” Grapes for both the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are sourced from the Colchagua Valley vineyards, specifically from the Finca Apalta and Marchigüe properties.

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Winemaking: 55% of the wine was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.
90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot
14.3% Alcohol
$16 [average price]

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with tempting aromas of wild berry jam black pepper and hints of vanilla. Silky layers of fresh blackberry, raspberry, nutmeg and vanilla laced oak evolve into a dry, baking spice and crushed white peppercorn finish. Well balanced and silky smooth, this is a fantastically versatile Cab that can be paired with just about any dish, or lovely sipping on its own. [I paired with a super dense, creamy alfredo pasta topped with peppery grilled tempeh.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Dishes with red sauce and mushroom sauce, all red meats.

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Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Montes Alpha Syrah 2013
Winemaking: 55% of the wine was aged for 12 months in first and second use French oak barrels.
90% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Viognier
14.5% Alcohol
$16 [average price]

Tasting Notes: Inky red-violet in colour with aromas of blackberry, blueberry, vanilla and spiced oak. Dark berry jam flavours saturate the core of caramel laced peppery spice and velvety tannins. Jammy fruit and spice notes carry thru and are joined by toasted oak on the lengthy finish. Concentrated and velvety, this is a plush Syrah that can make the transition from dinner to dessert. [I paired with cheese manicotti dinner and then followed with a dark chocolate and hazelnut bar dessert.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Chinese dishes, pasta, all meat, especially red meat.

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Montes Alpha Syrah 2013

 

 

 

Samples submitted for review purpose.

Ritual Pinot Noir Casablanca Valley 2013

ritualpinot

Estate: Ritual is the result of the partnership of the Huneeus family of the Veramonte estate in Chile and American winemaker Paul Hobbs with a goal of producing a “premium, yet affordable, Pinot Noir from the Casablanca Valley”. The Veramonte estate is located between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Coast, just northwest of Santiago in the Casablanca Valley. The estate is dedicated to crafting “terroir expressive wines”, and is therefore committed to committed to caring for the land and environment. The estate is home to one of the most extensive contiguous vineyards in Chile, with over 420 hectares of vines. More then 4500 hectares of native forests are preserved as a natural green belt and are home to many indigenous animals and birds that surround the vineyards.

Philosophy: “To produce high quality wines that accurately, authentically express varietal characteristics via Chile’s unique terroirs — the combined environment of soil, topography, climate and people.”

Winemaking: Sustainable and organic methods are used, with 120 acres in the process of becoming certified organic. Grapes were sourced from 3 different vineyards within the estate. Wild yeast fermentation then aged up to 14 months in French oak barrels [40% new].

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of earthy warm brick, sweet oak, and black pepper. Jammy cherry and blueberry flavours around an earth and oak based core, peppery spice and toasted oak saturate the finish.

With the emphasis the estate places on their wines reflecting the unique terroir of Chile and conveying a “sense of place”, [including their sustainable viticulture practices and use of wild yeasts] this Pinot Noir was rather disappointing. Yes it was a pleasant bottle, but I found it to taste like an average California, over-oaked wine. Clearly, Paul Hobbs winemaking influence can be seen, which makes this a good example of the interesting study of winemaking technique vs. terroir. In fact, many of the reviews I found compared this to California wines; one review even clearly marked it as tasting like a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley or “perhaps even Santa María Valley”. Multiple critics state that this tastes like an American Pinot Noir [and view this as a positive quality], whereas, I see it as a compromise and/or failure of their mission statement to craft wines that express the unique terroir of the Casablanca Valley.

Pinot Noir [I could not verify varietal percentage.]
Casablanca Valley
Chile
Produced and Estate Bottled by Alto de Casablanca S.A.
14.5% Alcohol
$15

Casas Patronales Carmenere Reserva 2012

cpcarm

A food friendly Carmenere from a winery in the Maule Valley that consistently crafts tasty, value priced wines.

Winery: Casa Patronales was founded in 1990 by three friends who wanted to produce high quality grapes with an emphasis on the distinctive terrior of the Maule Valley. They planted their first vineyards in their family’s lands, and in 2003 began exporting their wines internationally. The vineyards are located in the Maule Valley, the largest wine producing area in Chile, which maintain a long and traditional history of old vine, dry-farmed vineyards.

Winemaking: Committed to every stage of the winemaking process, Casa Patronales is ardent in letting the wine express the place in which it is from, believing that wine “is a faithful reflection of its origin, its inimitable character, which comes from specific terroirs”.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with intriguing aromas of black currant, tobacco and brown sugar. Black cherry and plum notes wrapped around an earthy core, whilst crushed black peppercorn, hints of bitter herbs, sweet cigar box spice and dried cherry comprised the lengthy finish.

100% Carmenere
Maule Valley
Chile
Produced and Bottled by Viña Casas Patronales S.A.
14% Alcohol
$8

Further Reading: Click here for an interesting read on the design of “CP” on their labels.

Montes Malbec 2012

montes

A rustic, velvety Malbec at a fantastic price that can hold its own with bold flavours.

Estate: Montes was founded in the late 1980’s by four wine professionals with the goal of crafting “Chilean wines a quantum-leap higher in quality than the standards” that were currently in practice. Founder and winemaker Aurelio Montes professes “80% of good wine comes from the vineyards and only 20% from the cellar”. With that in mind, the estate not only employs sustainable viticulture, they also aim at conserving the environment. Currently they have conserved 400 hectares of indigenous forest on the Maule region, along with protecting biological corridors that enable the natural development of both plant and animal life. Preservation of the environment has resulted in the estate [including both farming and winemaking activities] to be Carbon Neutral as the forest absorbs all of the CO2 produced.

Philosophy: “To make wines of the highest quality while caring for the environment and our people and developing a sustainable culture in every phase of production.”

Winemaking: Montes Classic is the “ambassador” label of the estate, “representing the outstanding value Chile can offer for everyday drinking”. Grapes were sourced from vines nearly 100 years old, aged for six months in oak and then only lightly filtered.

Tasting Notes: Violet-red in colour with aromas of plum, chocolate and wet leaves. Black cherry, blackberry and hints of coffee wrapped around an earthy core, whilst velvety tannins, nuances of vanilla and slightly bitter herbaceous elements comprised the cleansing finish.

100% Malbec
Colchagua Valley
Chile
Produced and Bottled by Montes S.A.
14.5% Alcohol
$8
Enjoy now thru 2015

Viña Botalcura Litú Syrah Reserva 2012

luti

Estate: Chilean businessman and wine lover Juan Fernando Waidele along with pioneering French winemaker Philippe Debrus, who is noted for being the first winemaker in Chile to work with Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, founded Viña Botalcura in 2000.

Philosophy: Passionately crafting the best wines in Chile, along with sharing “the results of the love we have for our job, for our town and for our wine”.

Winemaking: The vineyards are sustainably farmed.

Tasting Notes: Inky red-violet in colour with aromas of cherry, toasted oak and licorice. Velvety flavours mirror the aromas in the full body and join grippy tannins, crushed black peppercorn and smoky oak notes in the lengthy finish.

Syrah [I could not verify varietal percentage]
Central Valley
Chile
Produced and Bottled by Viña y Bodega Botalcura S.A.
13% Alcohol
$12
Enjoy now thru 2015