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 Carmenère grapes come from Montes' own vineyards in Apalta and Marchigüe, arguably two of the finest sites in the Colchagua Valley. The sites are irrigated via a 'Sustainable Dry Farmed' system which allows for precise and minimal irrigating. In Apalta, vines are planted on 45° slopes, providing good exposure to achieve ripeness. Cool ocean breezes and low night-time temperatures help to moderate this warm area, allowing for slow ripening. Marchigüe is slightly cooler because of its closer proximity to the ocean. Conditions are dry, with the region lying in the rain shadow of the Coastal Range, reducing the threat of fungal disease and resulting in consistently healthy harvests.
The 2015-2016 season began with a normal winter in terms of precipitation, followed by a cool spring that enabled optimal budbreak and foliage development. Rainfall in October meant soils had correct levels of moisture to support growth throughout the rest of the season. The summer also began very cool, but February was one of the hottest in recent years. March was colder, which slowed ripening by 2 or 3 weeks, although the weather conditions were favourable up until harvest.
The grapes were cold soaked at 10°C for five days to extract aroma and colour. Following this, they underwent fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 12 days and were then kept on the skins to impart structure and colour. 55% of the final blend was aged in new French oak barrels for 12 months.
Deep ruby red in colour, this wine has intense aromas of chocolate, black and red fruits with spicy notes of black pepper. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied with smooth and rounded tannins and a long finish.