Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Report from ... Montgras Properties Lunch – March 21, 2011

Santiago "Magazine" Margozzini
Montgras is a name you may have heard, and if not, maybe you’ve seen one of their other properties names adorning a bottle of wine.  Montgras was established in 1992 and since then has added 3 other distinct properties/labels throughout Chile.  Montgras started in the Colchagua Valley then picked up vineyards in Leyda, Maipo and decided to go up in-them-thar-hills in their own backyard with the addition of their Ninquen property (1600ft above sea level) in the Colchague Valley.

Today, we had lunch at Far Niente restaurant and tasted thru 6 different wines (at least one from each property) with head winemaker Santiago Margozzini (or as some of us prefer to call him “Magazine”).  From the Amaral property (in Leyda), home to crisp whites to Ninquen, Montgras and Intriga (in the Maipo) there was not a stinker in the bunch; but of course there are wines that are just more “wow” than others … here are my top three wines.

3) Montgras 2010 Reserva Carmenere ($12.05) – made from 8 to 14 year old vines.  This wine is a real credit to Montgras’ commitment to Carmenere, they were actually the first Chilean winery to release a pure Carmenere wine.  This particular vintage (2010) it is a blend of 87% Carmenere and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is blackberry, raspberry, chocolate with smoky vanilla notes, while the flavours bring to mind chocolate, black cherry, black berry and hints of spice, plus a lovely long lingering finish. (****+)

2) Intriga 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($21.95) – made from grapevines that range from 10-50 years of age, with an average age of about 25 years.  Although Santiago (winemaker) kept speaking the mantra of Cabernet Sauvignon being the flagship wine of Montgras I was always intrigued by something else in the line-up, until I got to this one.  This old vines Cab is a single vineyard that Montgras rescued from disarray because the fruit produced here was “extraordinary”, and it is true it has lots of depth of character; it’s one of those wines you lie down and forget about for a few years and then reap the rewards of a forgetful mind.  Nose of mineral, blackberry and spiced cherry, which follows deliciously on the palate with chocolate, black fruit, pepper, spice with a sturdy tannin backbone … it’s only drawback is a medium length finish, but if you give it some time in the cellar you should find that, not only does the wine develop, but the finish will lengthen.  This is the only wine made at this property.  I gave it a 4 star rating at the Vintages Chille/Argentina tasting, but having revisited it and tried it with food I’m bumping that up to 4-plus with a potential to go higher in a few years. (****+)

1) Antu Ninquen 2009 Syrah ($17.95) – made from 9-year-old vines grown in the highlands some 1600 feet above where the regular Montgras vines grow.  A whopping 14.7% alcohol gives this wine heft without overbearing its fruit.  White pepper, raspberry and hints of violets on the nose; on the palate you’ll find pepper, red fruit, blackberry, blackcurrant, spice and some gentle wood flavouring that compliments the wine. This one was truly the best of the lot we tried today. The 2008 came through Vintages a few months ago with little fanfare (though I liked it enough to recommend it quite highly) – this one I would recommend even higher … inviting and intriguing, but most definitely delicious. (**** ½)

As for lunch … here’s what was on the menu:
Caesar with black pepper croutons and house cured bacon
Striploin Steak and Frites with truffled mayonnaise
or ... Grilled Salmon with Israeli cous cous, harissa, cherry tomato
Triple Chocolate Layer Cake with Chantilly Cream

1 comment:

Tiago said...

Last summer I traveled to Argentina and in my Buenos Aires temporary rent I tasted an spectacular Argentinean Cavernet Sauvignon (from Mendoza). I love American wines but I recognize that in many varieties Argentinean, Chilean and French are much better.