My first encounter with Montes was when I noticed my local wine guys sold a handy half-size bottle of their Sauvignon Blanc and I just didn’t fancy opening a whole bottle that night. Ok, for me, opening a whole bottle means drinking a whole bottle and sometimes, well… you need to exercise some restraint unless you want to spend the second half of your life passed out on a park bench.
Anyway, I’m not even a big fan of Sauv blanc, but I really liked the Montes one, especially at £4.50 a half-bottle. In fact, I’ve always found you get great bang for your buck with Chilean wine. So, I must admit that when I paid £13 for the brand’s premium “Alpha” range Pinot Noir, expectations were pretty high.
This one’s from the Aconcagua Valley, 60 miles north of Chile’s capital, Santiago — just over halfway up this slender python of a country, near the border with Argentina. I’ve only ever been there in a virtual/digital sense, but the place looks amazing. Aconcagua’s about as close to the equator as northern Africa, but its temperatures are moderated by the altitude of the Andes in the east (Mount Aconcagua is the highest peak outside Asia), and the Pacific Ocean breeze to the west, making it ideal wine territory. They also grow a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Carmenère there.
I gotta say, this wine really spoke my language. Literally. It said “pose me next to a cactus in a tin bucket so I feel at home (see above).”
But what did it have to offer? I found it leathery and earthy with complex black cherry, black current, strawberry and violets, plus subtle vanilla from the delicately applied use of oak barrels. This is an extremely smooth red, so if you’re partial to a bitter tannic smack in the mouth then this is probably not the wine for you. I loved it though.
Montes Alpha Pinot Noir, 2014. £13 from Seven Cellars. 14% vol.