Sunday, December 29, 2019

Montes Alpha Colchagua Valley Syrah

Montes Alpha Colchagua Valley Syrah 2017

After tasting three ultra-premium Syrah's over the holidays, we returned to 'normalcy' with a moderate priced everyday casual sipping Syrah. Having tasted the Montes Folly, premium Syrah from Chile, I explored their standard label, Montes Alpha, to see the range of their portfolio and their standard label.

It was a pleasant surprise to see the top ratings for this bargain priced label, rendering high QPR - Quality Price Ratio, if you are to believe the pundits' reviews. This entry level label for this vintage release was awarded 94 points from James Suckling, and 92 points from Wine Spectator, lofty achievements for a the sub $25 price range.

We tasted this with artisan cheeses, fruits, chocolates and some salad. 

Montes Folly has been cited as the best Syrah in Chile. It is the first ultra-premium Syrah to be sourced from Chile. The grapes for this Montes Folly grow on the steepest hillsides of the Finca de Apalta vineyards in Apalta, Colchagua, Chile. The 2016 release of this label was awarded 96 points by James Suckling. I gave it 92 points.

The Montes Alpha label is also from the Colchagua Valley. It was aged 55% of the wine for 12 months in first, second, and third-use French oak barrels compared to the premium label which was  aged in French oak barrels for 24 months.

While the Montes Folly grapes were 100% Syrah, hand-selected and sorted on special selection sorting tables, the Alpha is a blend of 90% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Viognier.

Similarly, while Montes Folly is the finest hand selected grapes, Alpha is mass produced from the rest of the crop to produce the 22,000 cases made, of which 1,500 cases were imported.

The winemaker notes for this label; "Aromatic nose with outstanding aromas of ripe black fruits such as blackberries and figs. Aromas of crème de cassis meld with mild notes of leather and dark chocolate, which are very characteristic of Syrah from Colchagua. The palate is well balanced with rich acidity, incredibly smooth tannins, tremendous structure, and generous volume.

I found this less impressive than the reviewers, understandably, and more in line with the price point, rather the overachieving, lofty ratings, lacking polish, balance or any sense of elegance. Never-the-less, its a suitable value based every day sipping wine, ideal for pizza, pasta or snacks.

This was garnet colored, medium-full bodied, black fruits with notes of tobacco, hints of cedar and black olives and hints of mocha on the firm tart, tangy acidic strong tannin laced finish.

RM 88 points.