Deep in the Colchagua Valley, Montes has build an ultra-modern bodega.
Today was a slow start. We needed some rest after yesterday and were a bit slow off the mark. That was, of course, exacerbated by our inability to blog quickly.
Breakfast in Casa Silva is served in a small room overlooking the courtyard. We shared breakfast with a family of six from France. Bryan didn’t like the Chilean egg dish but the steaming hot coffee and cheese and meats, with personal service, established a solid base to start the day.
Driving to Colchagua Valley
It was a beautiful fall day in the Colchagua Valley. Being late, Bryan was racing to get our noon appointment at Montes. Rounding a corner at ~135kmh, the Chilean police flagged us down (radar gun in hand). Yikes!
The police officer spoke no English; we spoke no Spanish. Bryan’s California driver’s license was produced, along with his Canadian passport. We scrambled for the Avis registration (the contract was left in the hotel room).
After conferring with the other police office, he returned looking very stern and said, ‘Cien’. Puzzled, Bryan held up seven fingers thinking it was a 70 kmh zone (setenta).
said the policeman. Jo-Anne pointed to the 100 kmh
What more can we say?
mark on the speedometer. ‘Si’ replied the policeman.
He then handed Bryan his drivers’ license, passport and registration, and walked away. Not a smile … not a fine.
Thoroughly humbled and eternally grateful, we continued our journey at a much slower pace.
Montes At Last
Now, we’re one full hour late for our appointment.
Marina, our personal tour director, took us on a complete tour of Montes. She explained the philosophy of the design and the Feng Shui of the building. Montes produces 2.5 million liters a year of wine from this facility and 10 million liters in total.
Essentially, Marina explained that the bodega was composed of wood, steel and stone with flowing water throughout. In fact, sunlight is available through a circular opening on the roof that goes down to the fountain in the center of the building.
The barrel room in the bottom of the bodega, which holds six hundred 225 liter barrels, is a temple to the aging wine. While resting at the perfect temperature and humidity, the wine enjoys peaceful music piped in 7x24.
Pressed for time (no kidding!), we passed on joining the geriatric group that
Marina points out the gravity feed and tanks for the premium wines.
were going up to a vista for a panoramic view of the valley. We started our tasting.
(1) 2005 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca Valley) - grassy/pale, citrus, crisp, served nice and cold; $6; we rated it a 7.5/10.
(2) 2005 Montes Limited Selection Apalta Vineyard (Colchagua Valley) - this was a blend of 70%!c(MISSING)abernet sauvignon and 30%!c(MISSING)armenere; the bouquet was similar to a Californian cabernet; well balanced, oaky, the carmenere added a spicy flavor; $8; we rated this wine a 8/10.
(3) 2004 Montes Alpha Syrah Alpalta Vineyard (Colchagua Valley) - interestingly, this wine has 5%!V(MISSING)iognier (white wine) for bouquet; very smooth, rich plum color, very full and velvety; $14; we rated this wine a 8.5/10.
We left Montes and drove to Viu Manent for lunch. It’s hard to dig yourself out when you are an hour and a half late. Yet, they graciously accepted our arrival and placed us in the “hot seat” - a table front and center, in the direct afternoon sun. This was in complete contrast to Bryan’s visit last August (during the cold winter).
We ordered our lunch (seared tuna and julienne vegetables for
Yes, they actually do fill the barrels with wine. We liked the white boots.
Bryan and crab and lemon grass ravioli for Jo-Anne) with the following wine:
(1) 2005 Viu Manent Reserva Sauvignon Blanc - forward fruit (pears, apple), pleasant, light, floral; the taste of the wine diminished as it warmed (which happened quickly since we were in the sun!); $10; we rated this wine a 6.5/10.
We finished our lunch and beetled off to Mont Gras. By the time we got there we had regained some ground - now only 30 minutes late. But, alas, the gods were not with us and our tardiness resulted in us having to wait for 40 minutes before our tour. We joined a local Chilean family for the tour (the father was a president of one of Santiago’s banks).
The bodega was built in 1992 but the “tourist facilities” were new and built in 2003. The facilities were built for a restaurant and hotel (with a large kitchen) but they are not operational.
This winery produces 7.5 million liters annually and is an excellent example of a high production, modern facility. They export their wine mostly to Europe. We had a full tour of the bodega, including the barrel room
Marina explaining the production to Jo-Anne.
consisting of 3,500 barrels. It was amazing.
We then tasted the following wines:
(1) 2002 Mont Gras Limited Edition Viognier (Colchagua Valley) - this was a very mild wine, orange, fruity flavor, 14.5%!a(MISSING)lcohol; $12; we rated this wine a 6.8/10.
(2) 2005 Mont Gras Reserve Carmenere - seven to eight months in the barrel (but second use); spicy, plum color, 13.5%!a(MISSING)lcohol; $12; we rated this wine a 6.5/10.
(3) 2004 Mont Gras Quatro Reserva limited Edition - this blend consists of 15%!c(MISSING)abernet, 35%!c(MISSING)armenere, 28%!m(MISSING)erlot, and 50%!m(MISSING)albec; it is 7-8 months in French oak; lots of tannin, can taste the malbec, very tasty (end of the day, remember); $12; we rated this wine 7/10.
We purchased a Reserve Zinfandel ($12) from this winery because we have not seen Zins here in Chile and we are keen to do a taste test with the California Zins.
We also purchased their high end cabernet, Antu Ninguen ($26), which is from the side of the mountain. We didn’t taste any of Mont Gras’ premium wines during the tasting but are taking a flier and packing two bottles with us.
This is how Montes avoids pumping their ultra-premium wines when transferring it to tanks and barrels.
Back at Casa Silva (amazingly, we didn’t get lost this time) we headed for the restaurant and had a pisco sour. The history behind pisco sours is interesting.
It is the subject of heated debates, media coverage and national pride. Peru and Chile continue to fight even now. It is not a war or border dispute but a fight over which country has the right to claim “Pisco” as their national drink.
Pisco is a clear brandy, popular for centuries in both Peru and Chile. The white muscat grapes, from which pisco is distilled, were first grown in Peru by the Spaniards in the 16th century. At that time Peru and Chile were both part of Spain’s American empire. When they became independent countries, both claimed the liquor as their own.
Today, the grapes are grown in only two places—around the town of Pisco in the Inca Valley of Peru, and in central Chile in the Elqui Valley, called the ‘zona pisqueria.’
Pisco is served in champagne flutes and is the popular pre-dinner drink. After tasting his, Bryan pulled out the talking dictionary and found ‘sin azucar.’ The offending cocktail was whisked away and replaced
Jo-Anne learns about gravity feed and why Montes avoids pumping their ultra-premium wines.
immediately with a very tasty, low carb, pisco sour.
With dinner we ordered the following wine:
(1) 2003 Casa Silva Los Lingues Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley) - the French oak with Chilean wines is distinctive, providing a leathery, earthy, meaty spirit; $12; we rated this wine 8/10.
Several times we have heard that this bodega is haunted - and tonight we learned to story. Thirty years ago the owner of the bodega committed suicide on the site. Was it our room? We will have to find out more about this tomorrow when we have our tour of the winery . . .
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