Sunday, September 18, 2011

Montes Alpha Syrah 2007

Terroir. It's that French word that no one really understands until they actually experience it for themselves. What does it mean? Loosely translated it means a sense of place. Flesh it out a little bit, and it refers to the idea that every wine that exhibits it comes from a specific and unique vineyard site that has its own special combination of soil, sunlight exposure, elevation, daytime and night time temperatures, and other factors that makes wine from that site different from any other wine in the world. Sounds a bit like an over-romanticized ideal or a marketing scheme doesn't it? Any one who is serious about wine and has experienced it will tell you pretty emphatically that it's not.

For those who don't believe in terroir, I would recommend going to your local wine shop and getting a Malbec from Cahors in France and then getting a similarly priced Malbec from Mendoza in Argentina. The same grape that was transplanted to Argentina from Cahors will produce wines that are quite different based primarily on the grapes being grown in a very different place. Once you can accept terroir on the grand scale of one wine region vs. another with the same grapes, it is a lot easier to start recognizing the nuances of terroir on a smaller scale.

Oh well, that's enough for my rant on terroir, lets get to the 2007 Montes Alpha Syrah. The wine comes from the Apalta Vineyard in the Colchagua Valley of Chile. It is 90% Syrah with 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Viognier that see a year of aging in French oak. The wine is deep purple-red in color and was tasted after 30 minutes in decanter. The complex nose is dominated by aromas of fresh earth, herbs, and pepper, but underneath that initial layer is some very nice but subtle black fruit aromas. In your mouth you get some black cherry fruit with some peppery spice that is rounded out by still somewhat firm and earthy tannins that should relax over the next few years. This is a Syrah that should drink well for many years to come, but it's drinking pretty well now if it's given some decanting.

Overall, this is a very nice Chilean Syrah that tastes like good Syrah should, but also just tastes a whole lot like Chile. It exhibits some excellent Chilean terroir, and would go very well with a flank steak with a red chimichurri or any grilled red meats. At a price of just under $20, it is money well spent.


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