Montes Alpha Syrah
I’ve always championed Chile as a purveyor of superb yet affordable wines, and Chilean producer Montes haven’t let me down yet (their “basic” Sauv Blanc is one of my go-to value whites). So I was confident that I’d enjoy this Syrah, from the Colchagua Valley, just south of the capital, Santiago, in central Chile.
I used to only be able to buy Montes wines from my local independent merchant, so it’s nice to see them make the migration up the road to the Co-op, whose buyers have a fine nose for sourcing tasty, yet good value, wines. According to Co-op’s web blurb, this one was “crafted by Aurelio Montes Jr in his winery which resembles a Bond villain lair”. Now, don’t tell me you’re not intrigued by that description.
Although Syrah takes the top billing here, closer inspection reveals this is actually a cuvée, made from a blend of Syrah (90%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%), and Viognier (3%). Forgive the oversimplification but, broadly speaking, the Syrah provides dark fruit, the Cab adds structure, while the Viognier contributes a subtly aromatic touch.
Intense blackcurrant, liquorice and chocolate flavours burst into your face from the start, but this is a very smooth ride, especially after it’s been decanted for the recommended 30 minutes. It can also be aged for ten years, although why anyone would want to wait for more than ten minutes to drink it is beyond me.
This will appeal to fans of full-bodied, fruit-forward, in-your-face New World reds, such as Shiraz from Australia’s Barossa Valley. If there’s any justice, it’ll become an international household name. It’s already a winner Chez Ninja.
4.5 NINJS STARS
Montes Alpha, 2016. 14.5% volume. £10 from Co-op, also available elsewhere
Also see my Montes Alpha Pinot Noir Review