09 October 2013

South American Trio

Here's a look behind the curtain here at BWR on how wines are ordered in one of my posts. For the photo, if there's not a logical order like vintage, I'll line them up however the light works best for the situation. Particularly beautiful rosés get the most focus in terms of sunlight coming through the bottle. When it comes to the listing of wines, I tend to start with lighter whites and end with heavy reds, which is how I tend to serve them during a dinner party. This often corresponds with a gradual increase in price, so that the less expensive wines are at the beginning. The most expensive isn't always the best or most memorable, but when that special bottle of aged Bordeaux or Burgundy is brought out at the end of a magnificent dinner, it makes a great closing, both in tasting and in writing.

In honor of the Southern Hemisphere, I'm turning this trio of reviews upside down. Two Chilean reds and an Argentine white. There is a connection between the three, with the reds representing the venerable Montes winery of Chile, and the newer Kaiken winery in Argentina run by Aurelio Montes, Jr.

2011 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon
Colchagua Valley, Chile
90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot
$22, 13.5% abv.

This is the classic wine that launched Montes 25 years ago. It opens up with rich aromas of tobacco, coffee, blackberries, and a touch of pencil shavings. On the palate the flavors are mellow and well balanced with medium tannins and a smooth finish. A great bargain, and one that would be an elegant accompaniment to rare prime rib.

2012 Montes Twins Red Wine
Colchagua Valley, Chile
50% Malbec, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon
$13, 14% abv.

The more whimsical Montes bottle features label art by the great Ralph Steadman. That splatter style is so unmistakable and I smile every time I encounter it. The curious wine (Chilean Malbec?) is tart and tannic with dominant aromas of black cherry and leather. It needs a little breathing before settling down with a pizza or burger at the end of a long day at work.

2012 Kaiken Terroir Feries Torrontés
Salta, Argentina
100% Torrontés
$13, 13.5% abv.

If you ever encounter a Torrontés, it probably came from Argentina. If you got some in a blend from Chile or Spain while doing DNA analysis on your wine, it might even be a surprise to the winemaker. But I like these grapes that have found niches in various parts of the world, and this bottle does not disappoint. The nose has pleasant lime peel scents with a touch of grapefruit in the background. Low acidity with a smooth, mineral finish. There's a lot of complexity in this inexpensive bottle and it's worth bringing to a tasting party to share something that's not just citrus from start to finish like a few Sauvignon Blancs that are out there. Should be delightful with shellfish.

Note: These wines were provided as samples for review.

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