Monday, March 9, 2015

Report from ... Montes Dry Farming Initiative Tasting - March 2, 2015

Aurelio Montes Jr. came to town, do da do da ... to promote Montes' newest initiative: Dry Farming, plus an introduction to one of Montes' newest wines "Taita", which is in such limited production (200-250 cases) that only 36 bottles are being made available in Canada - not cases ... bottles.

Aurelio stressed that a winery has to still be on the cutting edge, even if they have been around awhile (Montes recently celebrated 25 years); "must be aware of what's new, what's happening and trends," he said, to remain relevant in these fast and ever-changing times.  

Montes has moved to a different level of sustainability in their winery practices, which looks at 4 major components:  environmental, energy, workers and community - for example, Montes reduced 60% of its energy usage.

They have also started dry farming (using zero irrigation), which can't be done everywhere, but it's being started in the vineyards where it can be done.  By doing this they get less yield, less clusters per vine and increase in pulp to skin ratio (in 2011 with irrigation it was 12%, in 2012 by dry farming it was 37%) ... the result is better quality wines in the bottle ... the good news is that Montes has kept the same price point - so kudos to them.  As example of what dry farming has done in terms of grape production:  they used to get one bottle of wine per vine, it is now half a bottle per vine.  But the real proof will be in the bottle and here Montes gave us a tasting of the Montes Alpha, the first wine to be released with their dry farming initiative, a semi-vertical using the 1999 (to show age-ability), 2011 (irrigated) and 2012 (dry farmed).  As well we tasted a couple from their Outer Limits series and a couple of other little surprises.

The Wines ...

Montes 2013 Outer Limits Sauvignon Blanc ($19.95)
no more than 1000 cases are made of this wine
depending on the vintage wine rests on lees 6 months to one year

Nose of asparagus and grapefruit leads to a grapefruit, grassy
palate that very Sauvignon Blanc with a long finish. (*** 1/2+)
Montes 2014 Outer Limits Cinsault ($19.95)
first year this wine was made ... only 100 cases
very little Cinsault in Chile, Montes found 100 year old vines in Itata

Very plumy and grapey with sweet fruit and floral along with a little
tartness on the finish - this one is fresh and fruity.  (*** 1/2+)

Montes 1999 Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon
a 16 year old bottle of Cab from Chile
Yes there's a dryness to the wine and the fruit: dried strawberry and cherry,
with oak notes and pencil shavings, but smooth; this one still has plenty of life.
Montes 2011 Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95)
the last year of irrigation
Cherry, plum, strawberry, chocolate, spice, mocha; good spice with
a dry tannin finish - this one is enjoyable now til 2018.  (****)

Montes 2012 Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.95)
dry farmed appears for the time - upper part of label
Real intensity of fruit on the nose: rich blackberry, cassis, mocha, black cherry;
but on the palate this wine needs time for the fruit to really show itself.  (****+)
Montes 2012 Purple Angel ($62.95)
most successful wine in the company's history
made from Carmenere with 8% Petit Verdot to help the finish
aged in specially selected and developed French and American oak barrels

Lovely mocha, chocolate, red and dark fruit mix with gentle spice and silky
yet masculine tannins; great intensity of blueberry, blackberry, smoke, vanilla and spice.  (**** 1/2)
Montes 2007 Taita ($300 - 350)
only 36 bottles will be made available in Canada
24 months in French oak; 3 years in bottle; special vintages only
85% Cabernet Sauvignon - 15% Syrah/Carmenere ("winemaker's selection")
"Taita" = grandfather figure with life knowledge and experience - Wisdom in Wine

Aromas of coffee, blackberry and cassis are followed on the palate with black cherry,
mocha, chocolate, spice - silky smooth yet with intense fruit, dark and brooding; also
with a touch of cedar on the finish ... shows real elegance.  (**** 1/2)

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