Montes was established in 1988 by Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, with the aim to produce the best wines in Chile from the best regions. We have long admired Montes and what they have done for Chilean wine over the past 25 years. Their wines are consistently good because they are meticulous throughout the entire production process. At the apogee of Montes' production, this belongs in their highest tier of wines. Produced from Montes' own vineyards in the heart of the Colchagua Valley, Apalta and Marchige, it illustrates the potential Chile has to produce outstanding wine if yields are contained and the grapes are picked when fully ripe.
One of Chile's first ultra-premium Syrahs, this is rich and smoky, with great concentration of ripe, supple tannins and a smooth leathery, pepper and spice character to the palate. Single vineyard intensity shows through in the long, fragrant finish.
The Syrah grapes are sourced from a single parcel on the highest, steepest slopes of Apalta's 'Finca Apalta', arguably one of the finest sites for red wine grape growing in Chile. Vines are planted on 45° slopes providing good exposure to aid ripening. Despite being 60 kilometres from the ocean, its cool breezes moderate this warm area. Low night-time temperatures further prolong ripening, allowing for the slow development and retention of varietal aromas and acidity. Yields are very small at 3.5-4 tonnes per hectare.
The 2016-17 season was characterised by low levels of precipitation in winter, which meant they had to be very efficient in gathering rainwater and irrigating up until harvest, fully adhering to their philosophy of sustainable irrigation. Unusually high temperatures in January and February greatly influenced ripening. These peaks accelerated the accumulation of sugars, compared to the same dates in previous years. However, March had cooler afternoons, shrinking the number of hours of heat and improving diurnal temperature changes, which was advantageous because it extended tannin maturation time. Syrah has a high resistance to stress; despite the high temperatures during ripening, the evolution was enough that they could harvest on dates very similar to the previous year, which had cooler temperatures.
Grapes underwent a meticulous dual sorting process in the winery, once by machine using camera 'eyes' to reject less than perfect grapes, and once by hand. Only perfect berries made the final cut for this wine. Fruit underwent cold soaking for five days at 10°C to extract aroma and colour, before fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 12-15 days. Following this, the wine spent 15-20 days on skins to enhance structure and colour. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was aged in French oak barrels, 80% new and 20% second-use, for 18 months before being blended in tank, gently membrane filtered and bottled.
This wine is deep violet in colour. On the nose, there are intense aromas of ripe red and black fruits with a blend of sweet spices and subtle toast. The French oak is very well-integrated and displays notes of coffee and chocolate. This wine is well-balanced, complex and elegant, with round tannins, tremendous structure, and a long and pleasing finish.