Montes is a well-known name in Chilean wine. In fact, Aurello Montes Sr. is considered a founding father in the modern Chilean wine industry. With over thirty-five years of oenological expertise, Montes has remained at the forefront of reshaping and reimaging Chilean wine. In 2008 Ernst and Young named him “Entrepreneur of the Year” and in 2009 the United Kingdom Masters of Wine awarded him “Personality of the Year.” Therefore, when I received an email from Feast PR regarding Montes Wines I was thrilled to receive samples for review. To learn more about Feast PR visit their web site.
On our way home from Parent’s Weekend visiting our daughter at The Ohio State University, I bought the current issue of Food and Wine magazine at the news stand. The November 2014 issue was filled with delicious fall recipes. As I dog eared pages of meals to prepare I thought of the two bottles of Montes samples on deck for me to taste and review.
Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2011 Casablanca Valley: This Chardonnay poured a translucent rich golden color with nice viscosity into the glass. After being open for thirty minutes it met the nose with an alluring bouquet of tropical fruits, melons and a touch of marzipan. On the palate this creamy Chardonnay offered flavors of ripe pineapple, Korean melon, and lemon zest with a touch of toasted hazelnuts on the back of the palate that lingers in well-rounded acidity. Although 40% of this wine fermented in French oak barrels for 12 months, this was a clean Chardonnay that offered fresh and lively fruits without being overpowered by oak. The Chardonnay grapes for this wine were sourced from the Casablanca Valley. This wine contained 14% alcohol. SRP $24 but can be found for less. This wine is well distributed throughout the US and should be easy to find near you; click here for some possible places to purchase this wine.
I paired this wine with Curried Carrot and Apple Soup. This recipe suggested a pairing with a fruity Chardonnay; therefore, I knew it would pair well with the Montes Alpha 2011 Chardonnay. It was a delicious pairing. The soup was crafted of carrots, apples and ginger so it had a sweetness that met beautifully with the Chardonnay. Furthermore, the creamy textures of the soup and Chardonnay was pleasing on the palate while the acidity of the wine rounded out the sweetness of the soup. I recommend this wine and this pairing.
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: This Cabernet was crafted from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and 10% Merlot grapes. It poured an opaque deep garnet with maroon highlights into the glass. After being opened for thirty minutes it met the nose with intense aromas of vibrant ripe berries, tobacco, damp underbrush and vanilla. This wine delivered the aromas on the palate with loquacious flavors of fruit: blackberries, black raspberries, currants and plums; as well as additional flavors of leather, damp underbrush, toffee, toasted cedar and vanilla. This was a big Cabernet Sauvignon with round tannins and high acidity that resulted in a mouth coating, lingering finish. Fifty percent of this wine was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels with either 1, 2 or 3 prior usages. It contained 14.3% alcohol. SRP $20 but also can be found for less. This wine is also well distributed throughout the US and should be easy to find near you: click here for some possible places to purchase this wine.
I paired this wine with Spiced Moroccan Kebabs. It was a delicious North African recipe that paired perfectly with the voluptuous Montes Cab. The ras el hanout spice blend offered a burst of flavor that met the great flavors of the cab with ease. An outstanding meal with lots of flavor that needed to be paired with a big wine; it was a winning combination. The recipe suggested a berry rich Malbec as a pairing; instead I chose a berry rich Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon with layers of flavor for an enjoyable weeknight dinner. I recommend this wine and this pairing.
In addition to the perennial production of high quality wines, Montes has always held the philosophy of caring for the environment, the people and develop a sustainable culture. Montes’ sustainable commitment features a four-pronged commitment:
- Caring for the vineyards: integrated management, maintaining plant cover, use of less water, composting, use of grazing animals
- Conservation of the habitat: protection of the environment, biodiversity program
- Operations Management: responsible waste management, managing their carbon footprint
- Social responsibility: caring for the future, study completion program for workers, training wives of workers to develop new skills, forest fire prevention, preserving the culture of the Apalta employees through the formation of the Folklore Group
Montes takes their responsibility to the environment, employees, community and customers very seriously. To learn more about the Montes philosophy, winemaking, history and vineyards, as well as view their entire portfolio of wines (including the iconic Montes Alpha M that I had the pleasure of tasting at a recent Wines of Chile event, look for upcoming article) I encourage you to visit the Montes web site.
My Song Selection: I love a good wine/food pairing! It brings out the best of all the flavors and makes my palate dance. Therefore, the song I have chosen to pair with the Montes Alpha 2011 Chardonnay and the Montes Alpha 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is Late in the Evening by Paul Simon. As with so many Paul Simon songs, this song makes me want to turn it up and dance. Both of these delicious Montes wines are fun drinking, mouth pleasing, food friendly wines that are perfect for weeknight enjoyment or special occasion like Thanksgiving.
Get your own bottles of Montes Alpha 2011 Chardonnay and Montes Alpha 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!