Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Two Excellent Wines from Chile's Aconcagua Coast DO, where "the vines grow happy and the grapes ripen slowly".

Two Excellent Wines from Chile's Aconcagua Coast DO where "the vines grow happy and the grapes ripen slowly"  


Montes Alpha Pinot Noir Aconcagua Costa (DO) 2019, 14.5% 

RRP €23.99. The 1601; Martins Off Licence; Sweeney's D3; Higgins Off Licence; Blackrock Cellar;

“It is totally coastal influenced. In morning there’s mist and fog and then a shy sunshine from mid day. The vines grow happy. The grapes ripen slowly.” This was Aurelio Montes speaking of the Aconcagua Coast during a 2020 Zoomed masterclass as he sipped a Pinot Noir (Quite possibly this one).

Montes are serious players. According to the Wines of South America, Montes (founded in 1988) is credited for its pioneering work in the Colchagua’s Apalta district, the first to realise its potential as one of the best locations for red wines in Chile and “is among the most important wineries in Chile today”. As a further endorsement, their Alpha “M” (very limited production) is listed as one of the top 20 South American wines to drink before you die.

Bright ruby red is the colour of this 2019 Pinot Noir. It is quite aromatic, full of cherry, blueberry and raspberry, hints of vanilla too, sweet spice in there also. It is juicy and that bit spicy on the palette, hints of its time in oak (integrated), well rounded tannins, and a vibrant acidity helping the balance, keeping it smooth and elegant, as well as interesting, right through to the abiding and perfumed finish.  Very engaging,  totally likeable and Very Highly Recommended.

Montes Alpha wines are elegant and easy to drink, faithfully expressing the variety and terroir. “This has spent twelve months in French oak barrels, 20% new, for structure and complexity.” 

Their website tells us: Just 7 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean and located in the northern part of the Aconcagua Costa winemaking region, Viña Montes is the only winery with vines planted in this new D.O., characterized by cool, cloudy summer mornings, with sun at midday, and afternoons that see clouds reappearing with low temperatures. These conditions favor a slow ripening of the grapes that allow them to develop complexity and powerful aromas.

Importers Liberty Wines add: The proximity of the vineyards to the Pacific coast endows the wine with tremendous freshness, minerality, and cool climate typicity. The granitic soils of the Coastal Mountains have varying percentages of clay, which contributes elegance, creaminess and a unique sense of place.


Best Value Wines 2022 Under €18.00. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 



Montes Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc Aconcagua Costa (DO)  2021, 13.5% ABV, €14.95 Bradleys Cork

Chilean Sauvignon blanc is usually pretty good and good value too, especially at entry level, as is the case here with this engaging Montes from the coastal vineyards of Aconcagua.

Colour is pale straw with green tones. Aromas are quite intense: herbaceous, pineapple, lime, and more. It is much the same on the palate, where a lively acidity comes into play, but you may also notice orange blossom and a light spice. 

No oak used by the way. An everyday wine they say. But a good one and Highly Recommended. Serve at 12 to 13 degrees and you’ll find it goes well with sushi, Caesar Salad, ceviche, garlic shrimp, grilled Mahi-Mahi, pasta primavera, seafood chowder and lemon chicken. 

Don’t think the Mahi-Mahi suggestion will be of much use to you. It is a fish of the Americas, also known as Red Snapper, and not usually available here, though I had it once at an early gastro pub in Passage  (I was told it had been flown in that morning!). You could try bream instead.

I was a regular visitor to that pub and the food was good. One of the best dishes I remember was a Scallop Pie. They must have been relatively inexpensive then for the dish was packed with them. They had a French chef I recall; my mobile phone (an early version) rang out loudly one night and the chef started singing along to the  “incoming call” music, which was the Marseillaise. 

The Montes Classic Series of wines represent the outstanding value Chile can offer for everyday drinking. “Grapes are hand-picked and transported to the winery with the utmost care, to keep bunch damage to an absolute minimum.” You don’t have to stop at this Sauvignon as the Series also include wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Chardonnay.


Top Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


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