The Pinot Noir grape is notoriously fickle and difficult to grow. Many a vineyard owner has tried and failed in the past and the variety tends to be grown in very specific areas of the world (Burgundy probably being the most famous) where the climate and topography are exacting to the conditions that the grape needs to thrive in. It is thus a relatively expensive wine as not only is it grown in smaller quantities than other more hardy grape varieties but also needs a lot of extra care and attention during the winemaking process. When mother nature allows it to be grown and in the hands of a skilled winemaker, it can make the most opulent and sensational of wines and it is my favourite single red wine varietal. It is also used in the production of champagne and some white wines but it is for red wine which it is most famous, particularly wines such as Gevrey-Chambertin to name one.
It’s quite rare to discover a bottle of Pinot Noir for under £10 – even a New World one. That said I have bought bottles of the variety for less than £10 and they have been truly awful – washed-out and watery with no defining characteristics and taste – so to find a bottle around this price point that actually drinks well is even more of a discovery. The Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir is such a find and in fact I believe it is the best value-for-money Pinot Noir you can buy in the UK at the moment.
The grapes for this wine come from the Casablanca Valley in Chile, its first cool-climate wine producing region, where the conditions are just right for growing Pinot Noir. The fruit is picked relatively late in the season (end of March) to allow for optimum ripeness and undergo pre-fermentative maceration to optimise the capture of aromas and colour intensity. It is then aged for 5 months in a combination of new and used French Oak barrels before a light filtration and bottling.
The wine is a bit darker than your typical Pinot Noir, with a nice deep ruby hue. At 14% alcohol content it has good legs and this helps to make the wine intense on the nose with a predominance of strawberry and flowery violet hints and even though it may not look like a typical Pinot in the glass there is no doubt as to what it is after smelling it. On the palate the wine is fruit-driven with strawberries and red berries at the fore with a floral after-note that gives it some elegance, rounded off with a lick of vanilla. It is well balanced with very soft tannins and just the right level of acidity making it fresh but not light.
Serving suggestions include roast lamb and pork, tuna steaks, veal and mild/creamy cheeses such as Brie. It is great to drink in the summer slightly chilled and will go with just about anything thrown on the barbie.
Available at time of publication from Majestic for £9.49 a bottle – and an absolute bargain.
Marks out of 100 – 90