March 28, 2008

Montes Alpha Syrah

Syrah Blend / 2005
Apalta Valley / Chile

It is so nice to have "Wine Friends" that are as excited about wine as I am. Every week I am amazed at the number of people that visit my site and take the time to comment or make suggestions of wines to try. What started as a hobby, has become something more. Where this journey will end I do not know. I have to say, I am having a heck of a lot of fun on the trip.

This week my friend and fellow wine buff Barbara Johnson dropped off a bottle of Montes Alpha Syrah and asked for my opinion. She and I have similar palates, so I was excited to give it a try. I am a fan of Chilean wines from way back. Initially it was because of their affordability more then their quality. Lately, it is more about quality. Their reasonable price is just icing on the cake.

Montes Alpha is producing their wines with a trick learned from the Australians. They add a bit of Cabernet and Viognier to the Syrah, and the wine becomes better then the sum of its parts. This wine certainly does. With the addition of 7% Cabernet and 3% Viognier the wine is given some added structure and great aromatics. This wine is a smooth gem.

It pours a dark ruby color and emits floral, tobacco and earthy aromas. There is also a hint of red fruit on the nose, but it is tough to isolate. The red fruit comes through when tasting. This full bodied syrah blend has berries and cassis galore, with leather and earth layers. This wine was aged for 12 months in French oak, and you can taste a bit of the oak on the finish.

The wine has a nice mouth feel. Rich and hearty, you can feel the structure that the Cabernet has delivered in the blend. A slight floral note on the long finish gives a hint to the small amount of Viognier added before bottling. The tannins do not overwhelm. This is an easy bottle to drink as the tannins are mature and a bit velvety. It has nice balance from start to finish.

Overall, this is a lovely bottle of wine. A different style and richness then the Australian Shiraz, this is a great wine for a hearty steak or stew. You won't be disappointed. Look for the 2005 vintage, it should be available now. Although this will lay down in a cellar for some time, it is a winner right now. I would not expect this to improve a great deal in the bottle.

The Montes Alpha wines and many of their Chilean competitors have been improving in quality dramatically. A few have been included in top 100 wine honors, and are certainly worth a try. Don't hesitate to give these wines a look. Don't limit yourself to just the Syrah. They have Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well.

For those who can be found at Costco for about $18.00. Otherwise, it can be found at any good wine store for about $21.00. Thank-you Barbara for the great recommendation. Anyone that has some suggestions for future columns, or wants to submit a wine for review, please e-mail me!

Check out Montes Alpha On-Line

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