Chilean winery owner Aurelio Montes was in town the other day on a quick visit to promote his wines. Montes is a Chilean winery, that even with a production of 7 million bottles a year, is considered a small to medium sized winery in South America. Aurelio brought along a vertical of their iconic wine, Montes Alpha M 2001 – 2010 for us to try.
Montes makes a variety of wines but the one that Aurelio is most proud of is their “M” series. A Bordeaux blend, it is comprised of 80% cabernet sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% merlot and 5% petit verdot. Aurelio compares his wines to those of the Left Bank and told us that it was recently blind tasted in Los Angeles against some of the best Bordeaux in the world. Surprisingly for many, it came out second only to Chateau Lafite. Not bad for a New World wine that’s only been in production for a short time.
Before we tasted through the wines, Aurelio advised us that although all the vintages are good, the even numbered years are a bit weaker when compared to the odd numbered years. So, without further ado, my notes on the Montes Alpha M 2001 – 2010, a really good tasting in my opinion…
Montes Alpha M 2001: A round and polished wine, licorice and black fruits on the nose with excellent acidity and a lush nose. An intense but not jammy palate with round tannins and a long finish. After awhile notes of freshly brewed tea began to show on the finish.
Montes Alpha M 2003: Blackberries and a hint of mint on an integrated, well structured wine, the tannins were not as soft as the 2001 but I didn’t think that was a bad thing. Long finish with a minty freshness to it.
Montes Alpha M 2004: This was the wine that came second to Lafite. The year was cooler then average which gave a wine with less intensity in colour, ripe red fruits on the nose and a savoury character to it. Again, the tannins were very smooth and round, an elegant wine with finesse, very feminine. I could see why, despite it being from an even numbered year, it fared so well in the blind tasting.
Montes Alpha M 2005: Now were getting wines that are a bit more edgy, very spicy nose with lots of vanilla and toast, obviously need more aging time. I even detected a slight vegetal aroma at the end but still plenty of juicy, red fruits and a very refreshing wine. This wine had structure you could make a building out of, with a dark chocolate finish.
Montes Alpha M 2006: Dark black fruits on the nose, quite perfumed but not as concentrated as the 2005. Leather and spice were evident on the nose and palate and a knockout body on this wine.
Montes Alpha M 2007: Now we are getting into too young to drink territory. Mostly spice and oak on the nose, the smooth, round tannins are gone replaced by chalky tannins which, while not unpleasant, are a big change from the previous wine. A mounthcoating wine, it does have a lot of potential.
Montes Alpha M 2009: Hasn’t opened up yet, not a lot on the nose other then hints of black fruit, smoother tannins with a lot of red fruit on the palate, a chewy wine, after a bit, it began to develop cherry pie flavours – not bad at all but definitely needs a few more years.
Montes Alpha M 2010: This young one had an extremely floral and expressive nose, not what I was expecting at all. Bright, zingy red fruit on the palate but no harsh tannins. We had some charcuterie to go along with this youngster and it was a great match. I suppose if you’re going to drink your wines young, this is a great choice.
All the wines benefited from being drunk with food but the older vintages were perfectly capable of being drunk on their own. It’s great to see such great wine coming from Chile. I’m going to have to get some of those younger vintages to squirrel away for a few years, they should be great!