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Once known for mass-market wines, Chile is now turning out world-class bottles, helped by rebels with a cause like Aurelio Montes, Jr.


As the The 37th International Wine Festival, comes to a close for another year we have time to reflect upon what this industry is really about.

Wine: the multi layer adventure. As in life – it isn’t only about the act of tasting one layer of the experience – it goes far beyond consumption. Wine proposes more. It’s a subtle invitation into the next layer, it touches us with a vibrancy.  Withstanding turmoil, defeat and ultimately near death to the vine, the cycle continues… springing forth new light, sweetness – growth, illumination and prosperity. Wine you see, is alive – as mercurial as it’s surroundings, refined by it’s struggle.

We had the opportunity to spend an evening with Montes Wines in a seminar, intended to illuminate 25 years of winemaking wisdom, with Sr. Aurelio Montes, Jr. guiding us… This seminar focused on: “History” – Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting; “Innovation” – Dry Farming comparison; and “Pride in Winemaking” – tasting the Icon wines of Montes.

Montes Outer Limits Sauvignon Blanc, Anoncagua Valley, Zapallar Coast 2014 Montes Alpha Carmenere, Colchagua Valley 2012
Montes Alpha Carmenere Colchagua Valley 2011
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley 2012
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley 2011
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley 2010
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley 2006
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley 2001
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley 1999
Montes Purple Angel, Colchagua Valley 2012
Montes Alpha M, Colchagua Valley 2011
Montes Folly, Colchagua Valley 2011

On the heels of recent Academy-award nominated stories of struggle & survival like Unbroken & ‘Wild’,  one cannot help but drift into narratives that reflect the human condition and our perpensity to adapt.  In a country upon which geography presents such immense challenge to even the most enthusiastic winemaker,  the Monte’s family brand have indeed tapped into their ‘alpha warrior’ to not only survive, but thrive against all odds.

During a packed house this past weekend, Aurelio Montes Jr spoke passionately about ‘Montes Alpha’, and the inherent wiring of the Chilean people to redirect adversity into action….“In 2010, one of the most powerful earthquakes in the history of the Southern Hemisphere decimated Chile”, Aureilio shared with watery eye.  “…Many of our family…workers from our vineyard….lost houses, even family members – and within 2 hours of the quake,  were outside rebuilding their lives with hammer and nail, and tending to the grapes in the fields…”

Aurelio then paused, and held the audience somewhat spell-bound as he searched for the one glass before him and raised it majestically to the ceiling as if it was the closing scene in ‘Lion King’….

“This….T-h-i-s is the wine I am most proud of.


The Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley 2010.”

“It embodies everything about our family…our people….that reflect our character and tenacity.  You can taste the grape’s struggle and its ability to not only survive…but thrive”.


I must admit…I entered the evening’s seminar with Aurelio Montes, Jr an indifferent Napa snob and believed, until mid-point through the tasting, that all the big, bold, complex reds resided two hours north of San Francisco.

Aurelio Montes Jr has turned me into a Chilean wine advocate.

From the Cabernet to his palate-serenading Carmenere,  the mouth of these wines are distinctively smooth, mouth filling, with gentle, rounded and soft tannins and a long, truly-memorable finish.   The hint of oak provides just the right amount of seasoning.   With all of these drops averaging less than $25.00,  these wines show in ranges that would make my Napa friends shake in disbelief.

Like the Chilean people, Montes Alpha Cabs deliver the maximum expression and intensity.

I recommend the Monte’s 2010 Cab to uncork as you DVR Reese Witherspoon’s depiction of Cheryl Strayed or Jolie’s telling of Unbroken….the metaphor of struggle and insatiable wonder of the human condition will be reflected in every sip.

For more information about Montes Wine footprint and sustainability practice, please visit their website: Montes Wine

words by | Ray Matthews

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