Chile has been a happening place for several years now. With a Mediterranean climate much like northern California, the grapes bask in sunshine and enjoy rain during the winter mostly. Even the landscape, with mountain valleys and slopes, resembles California. And, like California, the resultant wines are consistently high quality. But there’s one big difference: Price. Wines from Chile astound with a price to quality ratio that most wine regions could envy. I dare say few wine regions can top the number of excellent wines under $20 that Chile boasts. Read more about Chile’s history and wine country.
Founded in 1987 in Chile’s Colchogua Valley, Montes Alpha was one of the first wineries to export wines outside of the country. Their legacy grape is Cabernet Sauvignon but also produce Syrah and Carmenere, among others. In an effort to be more sustainable and reduce the winery’s water footprint, Aurelio Montes dry farms the grapes for his wines. This means he relies on rain to provide all the water needed to grow the vines. This sometimes results in huge crop losses (up to 8 tons per hectare, which is a lot) but the remaining fruit is more concentrated, complex and elegant. Much like their wines.
The 2012 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon is powerful with soft feminine edges. Cocoa, tart blackberry, ripe black cherry and green tobacco waft from the glass and bathe the tongue. The smooth oak and grape skin tannins are well-integrated and add some coffee and vanilla notes to the party. Medium-boded with solid acidity, this Cabernet is seriously well made.
Sweetness: 1 out of 10
Occasion: Sample sent from winery, heartily enjoyed with a grilled , grass-fed ribeye steak
Availability: Available around the country at high end retailers and restaurants.
Food Pairings: Lamb stew, braised short ribs, pasta with bolognese sauce, and grilled red meats.