Montes are a medium/large family owned wine business in Chile based in Colchagua but (as many producers have) vineyards and contract growers in other regions. It is a producer that has managed to garner a very decent reputation alongside producing wines in good volumes – in other words commercially it is getting it absolutely right.
Their winery and many of their best wines are situated at their Finca de Apalta estate – which as the name suggests is in the Apalta Valley – a particular subzone of Colchagua that appears to be particularly good for producing high quality red wines. This amphitheatre in the foothills of the Andes was first discovered as a viticultural area by Aurelio Montes but since then has been joined by a number of others – most notably Lapostolle who make their ‘Clos Apalta’ wine from a another slice of the natural bowl here and Ventisquero whose Pangea and Vertice wines are grown to the other side of Montes and made in partnership with John Duval (which I will add notes on a visit to later this month)
It is here in Apalta that Aurelio Montes made the decision to grow not only on the flat valley floor as others were doing, but to plant on the slopes surrounding the estate having seen this around the world it made perfect sense to him and it is here that the best wines are made. As well as an interesting tour and tasting the estate also has a nice restaurant that we ate lunch at and makes it a winery well worth adding to any visit schedule.
There is also a fair degree of experimentation going on here with grapes such a Grenache and Mourvedre plantings which are not that common in Chile some of them in prime spots in the most sheltered spots in their area of the valley.
Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc Leyda 2013
Pale green, fresh gooseberry and asparagus on the nose with lovely texture and good intensity of tropical fruit, granny smith apples and gooseberryfruit. It’s made in a really lovely drinkable style with good length.
Outer Limits Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Aconcagua
The Outer Limits range of wines are made in single vineyard plots that Montes would describe as being right on the limit. In this case this Sauvignon comes from the Zapallar Vineyard in Aconcagua a few kilometres from the coastal resort of the same name. As well as being coastal in this particular area the Andes come close to the Pacific which gives lower night time temperatures than would be normal in another coastal region. It’s an areas where the average summer maximum temperature is 25c. It is made in a really lovely textural style with great intensity of fruit, ripe slightly tropical and citrus fruit with only a hint of gooseberry. Very elegant it has length, poise, fragrance and precision.
Montes Classic Selection Chadonnay 2012, Curico
Lovely elegant and concentrated. The oak is integrated nicely – its rounded bright and textural. Loads of value for money here.
Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2012, Casablanca
Creamy oak, really lovely citrus fruit, supple well rounded oak bright acidity with good length and concentration.
Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir 2012, Casablanca
A lighter fruity style of Pinot that is quite appealing with sour cherry and raspberry fruit. Lovely concentration and bright crunchy fruit. Lively and with a bit of spice and texture. A very enjoyable, if relatively simple wine.
Montes Alpha Pinot Noir 2012, Casablanca
Concentrated, slightly smokey berry fruit. Soft, fragrant with lovely perfume. Fresh and pure with good focus and weight this fills you palate.
Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Carmenere 2012, Apalta, Colchagua
Lovely deep fruit, tight ripe grippy tannins and really good concentration. Full bodied with length and a lovely finish.
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Apalta, Colchagua
10% Merlot. Deep garnet wine with a lively bright rim. Lovely blackcurrant and cedar on the nose with some tobacco bringing some developed character. Firm but ripe tannins, lovely freshness of fruit and good concentration. Suprisingly elegant with length and poise.
Montes Alpha Carmenere 2011, Apalta, Colchagua
10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep purple, concentrated fruit with pencil lead and blackcurrant leaf. Lovely aromatic slightly perfumed fruit. Really fresh, good acidity. Really well made.
Montes Outer Limits Wild Slopes 2012, Apalta, Colchagua
50% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre
Mid garnet colour, lovely soft texture, bright fresh red berry fruit. This is really fresh and perfumed and elegant. It matches this with good freshness and concentration. Really good length and focus. Unexpected but delightful.
Montes Alpha M 2010, Apalta
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in French oak.
Really lovely concentrated nose with some secondary aromas forming. The tannisn are big but incredibly fine and ripe. The lovely cassis fruit is backed up by leather and tobacco. It finishes dry, long and concentrated. It’s really very elegant and certainly one of the finest Chilean wines I have tasted. Very impressive. Elegant.
Montes Purple Angel 2011, Apalta
Lush red fruit with lots of perrfume, lovely fresh mineral and elegant but with fully ripe tannins. Really good length, poise and structure. Terrific. I’m sure I’d wax lyrical more if it hadn’t come after the ‘M’ which blew me away a bit.