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by Fred McMillin
for May 26, 2000
Winery of the Week
Get to Know
"Chile is smoking hot at Vinexpo, the biggest
wine show in the world—by miles.
California makes five bottles of wine for every
one from Chile, yet Chile exports more wine than
the Golden State."
...Bob Thompson, San Francisco Examiner
In 1986 we wrote that "stainless steel and new
oak are beyond the reach of most Chilean bodegas."
By 1990 things were changing rapidly...with a
number of new wineries 80 miles south of Santiago
around Curico [koo-reh-koh]...Capitalizing on Chile's
"matchless fruit," one of the country's best Cabernets
is from Curico by Montes.
...Hugh Johnson, World Atlas of Wine, 4th Ed.
The Rest of the Story
Montes. What's Montes? Aurelio Montes is one
of Chile's foremost winemakers. He and his
North American partner, Douglas Murray, launched
the Montes Winery a little over a decade ago.
The Wine Spectator has said Aurelio is "leading
the charge" to higher quality wines, calling
one of his reds a "blockbuster."
So we're talking about the hottest wine exporting
country (Chile), its hot-button district of Curico,
and a veteran winemaker that can produce "blockbusters."
Best of all, for only $10 you can try a Montes Curico
Chardonnay, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Let's check 'em out.
My panel liked the "apple, pear, good acid, good
balance." The Wine X Magazine gave it two xxs...apples
and gunpowder...HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The Merlot didn't score as well as the Chardonnay
with my panel. However, the Wine Spectator called
the $10 '97 a "GREAT RED WINE VALUE."
The above red Montes blockbuster was a Cab,...
but a $54 Cab... "elegant, polished, etc." Now,
the $10 model doesn't have that much charm, but
my panel rated it the highest of the three varietals.
If you drink $10 wines, try these three, and
try other varietals and vintages as they are
released. This is a winery on its way up...Montes.
We mentioned the Wine X Magazine. I like their
succint description of Chile. "A maritime ribbon—
a sliver of land 2,700 miles long yet no broader
than 150 miles, cleft by Andean river valleys.
It's bordered by the Atacama Desert on the north
and the ice fields of Patagonia on the south."
|| About the
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history
for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine
courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College.
In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred
with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded
to American wine writers.
This page created May 2000