I have had Montes wines in the past and I think they are great Chilean producers. The concept behind Montes was two friends, Aurelia Montes and Douglas Murray, who were also wine professionals in Chile, who wanted to take a leap into the premium market and show the world that Chile could produce more than just table wine.
And so in the last 1980s they took the leap along with two other partners and founded Montes Wines. Montes has always been a 100% Chilean effort. They eschew consultancies or joint ventures with foreign companies and are proud of their Chilean roots.
They first became known for their Bordeaux style blends but they have since branched out and produce wines made from Syrah and more interestingly from Carmenere. Carmenere was once a common grape used in the production of Bordeaux but after phylloxera hit the region in the 1880s, it was thought to be a lost grape. That is until the Chileans rediscovered the grape in their vineyards. For many years they thought it was Merlot and it wasn’t until the late ’80s that tests were done and it was realized that what they had been calling Merlot was actually the lost grape of Bordeaux, Carmenere. The variety is now known as a “Chilean” variety – some even call it a “Jurassic Park” grape because it has come back from extinction.
Montes has taken Carmenere and made it into a premium wine. They are proud that it is considered a grape of Chile and produce a Carmenere-led blend which comes from the Colchagua Valley. It’s not a 100% blend however. They feel that Carmenere on its own needs a little bit of help and so they add 8% Petit Verdot to give it a slight spicy edge.
I tried the 2010 Purple Angel not long ago and it is deep and rich wine. It’s quite complex with a sweet vanilla nose, hints of mint and red pepper, sweet black fruit on the palate and hints of mint, fresh black fruits, blackberry and even raspberry. A supple and smooth, mouth-watering wine with a ripe black fruit and damson plum finish. This is a wine that can be drunk on its own or with a juicy steak.
The Purple Angel is available from Majestic Wines and retails for £30.