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 Merlot grapes come from Montes' own vineyards in Marchigüe located in the Colchagua Valley. As with other regions in Chile, the ocean plays a role even 25km away, with cool breezes moderating this warm area. The sites are irrigated via a 'Sustainable Dry Farmed' system, developed by Aurelio and his team, which allows for precise and minimal irrigation, reducing their water usage by 65%. Marchigüe is dry, lying in the rain shadow of the Coastal Range, with low fungal disease pressure resulting in consistently healthy harvests.
The 2014 – 2015 season was average in terms of rain during the phenological ripening, when it is most needed. The winter was rainy enough that the water required for the season accumulated in the reservoirs. January was very cloudy in the valley, and February was clear and warmer than normal, which enabled harvest to begin in late February with aromatic skins, good flavour concentration and balanced sugar and acidity.
The grapes were cold soaked at 10°C for seven days to extract aroma and colour before fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 8-10 days. The wine then remained on skins for a further 15-20 days to aid structure and colour. After malolactic fermentation, 55% of the final blend was aged in French oak barrels (25% new, the rest second and third fill) for 12 months to add complexity and roundness to the wine.
Deep cherry red in colour with a violet hue. On the nose there are pronounced aromas of blackberries, cherries, figs and plums. The oak ageing adds subtle layers of vanilla and pepper as well as giving nutty notes and sweet spices. This is a well-structured wine with smooth, round tannins and a long and elegant finish.