The first time I noticed Chilean wine in the supermarket was around 2003 when I was sent to do the grocery shopping I was confronted by a wall of Montgras Merlot on offer at a hefty £2.99 a bottle. Now let’s put this into context a little bit. 2003 was the year that I got married, it was also the year that I went on honeymoon to the Rhone valley and did a bit of wine tourism – but it was before I really got the wine bug, before I had much understanding of anything really wine related. At this stage all I knew was that before I got married I drank mainly beer, and now I was more interested in wine – so for that £3 I could try a wine from a country that I’d never even seen wine from before. So I did – I don’t remember much about it, but I do know I liked it enough to experiment with Chilean wine for much of the next 12 / 18 months delving into other wines and so on. This experimentation marked a new phase in my vinous journey that continues on to this day to discover more, taste more and learn more as I go.
Within the Montgras stable are different levels of wine, Soleus which are organically grown, Montgras Varietal wines, Montgras Reserva wines and their premium wine Quatro – a blend on Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Carmenere. In addition to these ranges the Reserva and varietal wines are also available under the ‘De Gras’ label for independent merchants and the on trade (they are the same wines).
Montgras itself is situated in Colchagua in the Central Valley and most of the vineyards are situated on the valley floor with one notable exception. Run almost as a separate estate Ninquen is also in Colchagua but is situated on the foothills of the coastal mountain range, benefiting from both cooling breezes from being closer to the ocean but also the benefits of elevation and drainage while the poor soils help to control yields which can be a major problem in Chile.
De Gras Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Lively and zesty with a touch of sherbert and nice aromatics. Has good quality to price ratio. Relatively simple
De Gras Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – Leyda
Very fresh and zesty with a fragrant nose. Mineral with lots or aromatic fruit on the palate led by grapefruit and tropical notes. Nicely focussed though with good length and lively acidity.
De Gras Reserva Viognier 2013, Colchagua
Really lovely aromatics with lots of apricots, pineapples, and peaches, really nice mouthfilling texture. Very drinkable.
De Gras Rose 2013
Lively bright red fruits, zippy and zesty this is nicely drinkable (as a rose’ should be). It’s pretty dry, elegant and pale. It isn’t the most complex but then it doesn’t really need to be.
De Gras Reserva Pinot Noir 2012 – Leyda
Nice aromas and the fruit purity is pretty good but for me the alcohol is a little prevalent and the wine is a touch one dimensional.
De Gras Merlot 2013
Nicely plump fruit, quite simple but lovely weight and concentration. Good value.
De Gras Reserva Merlot 2013, Colchagua
Smooth and integrated, lovely plump plummy and red berry fruits the tannins are smooth and velvety and the wine has not only texture but concentration. Really very decent Merlot.
Reserva Carmenere 2013, Colchagua
Sweet tannins, lovely ripe fruit, good concentration and texture. Nicely leafy plummy fruit. Well made again.
De Gras Reserva Carignan Syrah 2012 Colchagua
Really interesting, bright and ripe, textural and rich it has lovely weight and mouthfeel good levels of concentration and fine length.
And then from the Ninquen stable….
Antu Ninquen Syrah 2012, Colchagua
Pretty impressive Syrah, lovely fragrant fruit – intense and concentrated. Quite smart with lots of potential to mature gracefully. Ripe grippy tannisn, and spicy elegant Syrah fruit. I liked this a lot.
Antu Ninquen Cabernet Carmenere 2012
Lots of blackcurrant fruit, sweet with layers of complextiy. The nose is a little medicinal and has huge body and concentration. A big fruit bomb of a wine which is super ripe. Not sure the Cabernet really works well here.
Very concentrated sweet fruited nose with soft sweet tannins this is more aromatic Syrah with spicy peppery notes. Really long and intense on the finish.