WHAT: This was the favorite among eight Chilean Carmeneres tasted at an online virtual tasting a couple of weeks ago. It was one of the best matches with the spicy foods we prepared.
The wine starts off with a beautiful deep ruby red color in the glass. It has a peppery nose with hints of red berries and some vanilla and red plums. The taste is soft, smooth and well-rounded. It has a long finish, with beautifully integrated oak.
The blend is 90 percent Carmenere, 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, grown in the Colchagua Valley. The vineyards are only 11 miles from the Pacific Ocean, and the cold climate allows the grapes to ripen slowly and reach full maturation.
The grapes were macerated at low temperatures for seven days before fermentation, which lasted 10 days. It then spent 12 months in French oak barrels.
The wine should be decanted about an hour before you intend to drink it. With the firm structure it has, the wine should be able to handle at least 10 years of cellaring.
The Montes Alpha is a great example of Chile’s signature grape. The touch of Cabernet gives it some tannic backbone to round it out just enough to make this a great wine that can be enjoyed by itself or with hearty food.
WINERY: Montes began operations in 1987 in Curicó, originally under the name ‘Discover Wine’. The name was later changed to Montes, alluding to the name of the winemaker and the image of the mountains that appeared on the label. It was a partnership of three men, commercial engineer Alfredo Vidaurre, marketing specialist Douglas Murray and winemaker Aurelio Montes.
While the reputation of Aurelio Montes as a winemaker, leader and innovator grew, Douglas Murray created a seamless web of worldwide distribution. A tireless traveler, he promoted the image of Chile and its wines while building trust and friendships that blossomed over the years.
The owners believed they were protected by angels, symbols present as a guardian behind the success of Montes, and reflected on the labels. They now operate in a modern winery in Apalta.
Today, more than 90 percent of Montes wines are intended for export and are distributed in more than 100 countries on five continents. Though Vidaurre and Murray are no longer with the company, it continues to create interesting wines, taking risks with new horizons and projects that will undoubtedly continue to surprise and delight wine lovers around the world.
They produce several levels of wine, including Purple Angel, Montes Alpha M, Montes Alpha, Montes Folly, Montes Cherub and the Classic series. In the Montes Alpha series they produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
GOES WITH: We tasted this with chicken curry, Tandoori chicken and curry lamb. It was perfect with the chicken curry, with the rich, jammy flavors cutting through the spices, but I also liked it with the lamb. It would match well with meats on the grill, especially if they have some spice; shepherd’s pie, fettuccine carbonara and tacos.