Viña Montes is one of the largest and most well-known wineries in Chile. The winery produces a vast number of products utilizing many varietals, including Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Syrah, to name a few. The winery is based in the Apalta region in Colchagua Valley in Chile.
The 2008 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir was 100% Pinot Noir. 60% of the wine was aged in French oak (80% old, 20% new) for 12 months. The remaining 40% was not oak aged. The grapes for this wine were sourced from Casablanca Valley. The label listed ABV was 14%.
I had previously tasted, enjoyed, and commented on the winery’s Purple Angel Carmenere product. When I came across their Pinot Noir in a local discount beverage store, I decided to give it a try.
Given the great experience with Purple Angel, expectations were fairly high.
Prior to tasting, the wine spent 1 hour in a decanter.
The nose was extremely expressive. Among the aromas present were black and red fruit, black cherry, light floral notes, eucalyptus, and a hint of alcohol.
I was taken aback by my first sip. This was a complex Pinot Noir. Black fruit was at the forefront, more specifically black cherry. The fruit combined with vanilla. The wine was spicy. There was also a bit of heat from the alcohol. That was a bit disappointing. The tannins were fairly ripe. This was heavy for a Pinot Noir, much fuller in body than a California Pinot or a Burgundy.
The finish was medium, cut short by alcohol. This wine was well-made and complex, but wasn’t blended yet. I would like to think that cellaring might bring this wine together and tame the heat in a few years. I also wonder what the result would have been if the entire vintage had been oak aged.
I made a mistake in pairing this wine. My entrée was grilled salmon with a citrus salsa verde topping. The salsa verde contains some red pepper flakes and is a bit spicy. I like spicy food. No, I love spicy food, but the heat from the alcohol combined with the heat of the citrus salsa verde created a consistent burning sensation in my mouth. This Pinot Noir calls for a hearty dish. It could stand up to a grilled steak or a heavily-sauced pasta dish.
The 2008 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir cost $17. I will likely try it again and see if a proper pairing can cut the heat down to size. That said, I wouldn’t recommend it just yet. This is a brawny Pinot Noir, which could be off putting depending on one’s expectations. I will let you know how my next outing with it goes.