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Delhi Wine Club
Passing By: The Chef and his Iconic Montes Wines

Posted: Monday, 07 October 2013 11:52

Passing By: The Chef and his Iconic Montes Wines

Oct 07: Aurelio Montes, the famous Chilean winemaker and founder partner of Montes, was passing through to re-launch their range of wines in India and celebrate 25 years of winemaking when Arun Batra caught up with him and chatted with him at an exclusive tasting of their premium wines.

When the owner of an internationally acclaimed winery visits India to promote his wines, you know that he is pretty serious about doing business in India. And when he comes all the way across from the other end of the globe then you know he is deadly serious!

That was precisely the message Aurelio Montes, the renowned Chilean winemaker and owner of the iconic Montes Wines, sent across during an exclusive wine dinner hosted by Brindco, the Montes importer and distributor for India at Travertino at The Oberoi New Delhi earlier last week.

I was also very keen to meet him as one of the co-founders of Viña Montes which Subhash Arora, President of the Indian Wine Academy and editor of this newsletter delWine, had visited in 2010 and could not meet him during this visit  as he was leaving for Hong Kong on the night of Montes’ arrival in Delhi. In his tribute to late Douglas Murray, one of the founding partners, he had then written in delWine that Montes was the first Chilean wine that had broken the $50 barrier a decade before. Apparently, Montes was also the first Chilean wine imported into India, through Sanjay Menon of Sonarys who has been its previous distributor.

Aurelio Montes was in India to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Montes Wines and to renew his business ties with India. Montes wines first hit the headlines way back in 1987 when its Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon was singled out by the Wine Magazine as one of the best ‘1 year old wines’ of the year and has never looked back since. 300 hectares of manicured picturesque vineyards in 4 different estates in the Colchagua Valley – a prime wine growing region of Chile feeding into a modern state of the art winery and cellar at Apalta, capable of holding 2.3 million litres, it has been the backbone of Montes success .

Aurelio Montes describes himself as a “chef in the kitchen tinkering with his recipes” – a very apt and self-effacing description of a wine maker who has, over the last twenty five years, delivered consistently top notch quality with his premium offering- the Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon. So what better opportunity to demonstrate his skill as a winemaker and his confidence in the quality of his wines than to preside over a vertical tasting across 6 vintages -1990, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2010 and 2011!

Despite the first two vintages having had the benefit of time in the cellar and the last two still being comparatively relatively young, what came through across the vintages was a consistently excellent medium bodied aromatic wine with complex flavours and soft tannins, well balanced by the oak; all hallmarks of a master winemaker's signature. By the way, Aurelio’s personal favourite is the 2005 vintage, a year “when low yields enabled the flavours to be more forceful and highly concentrated."

The highlight of the evening was the exclusive tasting of Montes' recently launched ultra-premium wine –Taita. The word in Chile describes fatherly parents and a guiding light for the younger generation. This 15% alcohol wine is priced in the US at $320 a bottle - taking it straight into the Indian stratosphere given our taxes and import duties, and perhaps the first Chilean wine to break the $300 barrier. Aged in oak for 2 years and then 3 in the bottle , the Montes Taita 2007 was heavenly - plenty of berries on the nose and bitter chocolate on the tongue, this was truly an elegant and powerful wine. Only 3000 bottles a year are to be bottled so expect this wine to soon become a collector’s item.

Aurelio is concerned with the trend of rising alcohol content in wines – the Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon’s alcohol percentage movement upwards from 12.1 in 1990 to13.9 in 2001 and 14.3 in 2010 supports his view - and currently he is focussing on options as to how to produce a top class wine with a lower alcohol content without compromising on taste and quality. He has experimented with tweaking the width of the vine rows and height of the vine bushes and says he has achieved very favourable results with nearly a 1% lower alcohol content.

We wish Aurelio Montes many more successes in his ”kitchen” as well as in his second foray into the Indian market - as a wine drinker I’d love to see the shelves stocked with Montes Alpha once again.

Arun Batra

Arun Batra is a Delhi based food and wine enthusiast and a longtime member of the Delhi Wine Club.

Tags: Aurelio Montes, Montes Wines, Brindco, Viña Montes, Chilean Wine, Colchagua Valley, Chile, Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Taita, Montes Taita


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