Montes was established in 1988 by Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, with the aim of producing the best wines in Chile from the best regions. The Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, first produced in 1987, broke the mould for premium wines in Chile. Since then, Alpha has developed to become the core range in the Montes portfolio. The grapes and sites are carefully selected in order to ensure varietal integrity and complexity. Viticulture is hands on rather than mechanical or industrial.
The grapes come from Montes' vineyards in Apalta and Marchigüe. The sites are irrigated via a 'Sustainable Dry Farmed' system which allows for precise and minimal irrigating, reducing their water footprint by 65%. In Apalta, vines are planted on 45° slopes, providing good exposure for ripeness. Cool ocean breezes and low night-time temperatures moderate this warm area, allowing for retention of varietal aromas and acidity. Marchigüe is cooler and lies in the rain shadow of the Coastal Range, reducing the threat of fungal disease and resulting in consistently healthy harvests. All grapes were hand harvested.
The 2014-2015 harvest (from November to February) was a very cool vintage, well below historic averages. Only in March did temperatures approach annual averages. Due to the cold, ripening occurred slowly yielding very expressive wines. Red varieties were marked by slow ripening until late March, especially with regards to sugar content. Then, halfway through April ripening suddenly accelerated, which allowed fruit to reach full maturity at a good point in the season avoiding disease threats.
The grapes were cold soaked at 10°C for five days to extract aroma and colour. The grapes were then fermented in stainless steel tanks for 12 days and kept on their skins to give structure and colour. After malolactic fermentation, 55% of the final blend was aged in French oak barrels (1st, 2nd, and 3rd use) for 12 months to add complexity and roundness to the wine.
This wine is deep ruby red in colour, with violet notes. There are intense notes of ripe red fruit, cherries in syrup, blackcurrants and a stewed fruit character. Notes of dairy, a hint of nutmeg, rich toast and a touch of tobacco intermingle with its fruity character. The palate is well balanced with round tannins, good structure and a long, elegant finish.