Thursday, November 8, 2012

Report from … Montgras Lunch in Burlington – October 18, 2012

At the recent Chilean tasting (notes to come) I gushed over what I thought to be the tastiest wine in the room, a 2009 Intriga from the house of Montgras.  Just so happens, and unbeknownst to me, my gushing got me an invite to a lunch with Christian Correa (Intriga’s winemaker) and Ricardo Araneda, vineyard and production manager for Montgras.  We met at Spencer’s on the Waterfront in Burlington, where I was treated to a delicious lunch (see pictures below) and some of the best value to quality ratio wines on the market (here in Ontario anyway).

A Little About Montgras …

Founded by Hernan Gras in 1993 … turns out that Mr. Gras has a Canadian connection, he worked as winemaker for Bright’s from 1974-1992 … then he returned to Chile to start his own project.

Montgras started as a single property in the Colchagua Valley, which is now their home base with 200 hectares of land of which 165 are planted.  There are at least 4 more properties that have been added since then.

The Montgras company has always been about finding the right varieties for the right piece of soil … so when they acquired their second property, Ninquen (1998-99), they planted only Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah … this is a 300 hectare property with only 100 hectares planted.  Ninquen is unique as it shares the winery with the original Montgras – two wineries in one building – but they have completely separate operations: one winery takes one half of the building the other takes up the other half, keeping all winemaking separate right down to the tanks and press.

In 2005 a third property came on line in the Maipo Valley, this property they purchased from a long time grower who had run out of lineage to will it to.  This property has vines as old as 80 years with an average age between 40-50 years for the vines.  Intriga was born on this 400 hectare property – of which only 160 hectares are planted.  Intriga means mystery or intrigue, and it is primarily a Cabernet Sauvignon based wine.

That same year (2005) Montgras acquires a 500 hectare property in Leyda (a cooler region) where they grow Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Only 100 hectares are planted … this property is where the Amaral wines call home.

Finally, during this binge of expansion, one more property was purchased: Pumanque, in the original Colchagua Valley where the whole project started – but this 3400 hectare property (230 planted) lies closer to the ocean and the grapes growing here are for the Montgras line of wines … single vineyard designation pending.

Montgras makes 1 million cases per year.

The Three Wines We Tried …

Montgras 2011 Quatro ($14.95 – November 10, 2012 Vintages Release) …
The make-up of this wine is always the same grapes, but in different percentages.  The 2011 is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant (40%) followed by Carmenere, Malbec with only 10% Syrah.  Rich blackberry with minty flavours and raspberry notes; fruity, fresh and fun – a well-priced smooth and supple offering. (*** ½+)

Antu Ninquen 2010 Syrah ($16.95 – December 8, 2012 Vintages Release)
Awesome value for this quality Syarh.  A nose loaded with white pepper, chocolate and licorice goes along with what some might consider a hot nose (ripe with alcohol) – but that’s up to your olfactories to decide.  17 months in 50% new oak has produced a wine rich in tannins, but balanced of fruit and 14.6% alcohol – though it does not drink ”hot”.  Palate is mainly fruit driven with white pepper notes and a pleasant smokiness – there’s also some vanilla nuances playing around on the finish.  Well balanced yet intense.  Price only makes this one more of a steal. (****+)

Intriga 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($21.95 – already in the LCBO Vintages system)
This wine spent 23 months in a mix of 40% new and 60% 2nd fill French oak; it has a limited case production of only 3850 cases, of which Ontario picks up 224 … by comparison British Columbia takes close to 1000 cases every year … Smoky and plummy along with nice tannins and acidity – a very multi-fooded friendly wine (believe it or not I paired it with trout at the lunch).  This wine shows some real elegance.  The 2009 is even better, but this 2008 is not slouch.  With another seven months under its belt (from when I last tasted it) and having it with a meal raised my mark almost a full star rating. (****+) 

Lunch pictures - it was all very tasty ...
Spencer's Caesar Salad

Trout with lobster Risotto

No comments: