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Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

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Way back when, there existed a time in my life (during immediate post-college-liberal-arts-degree unemployment) where there simply was no wine budget. But just because the department of appropriations said “no,” it didn’t stop me from being thirsty. Chilean Cabernet (and Chilean wine in general) filled that gap. I won’t claim it was taste – reflecting, I think the best I can muster is “competently made” but it was a start. And hey, everyone starts somewhere.

Then there came Montes Alpha. Changing Chilean wine forever, Montes Alpha was founded in 1987 by four wine visionaries and dreamers to break Chile out of the “competently-made-bulk-wine” market. The raw materials were there – Chile’s got vinis vinifera vineyards dating back to the arrival of Europeans and a geologically diverse climate to harness their energy. What was lacking was vision, but Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand had that in spades.

And boom! The first glass I had blew my mind and enraptured my palate with its sumptuous flavors. That glass back then is as good as this wine is today:

Gone are the smoked green bell pepper aromas of most Chilean Cabernet, and in are the raspberry and graphite, a touch of spearmint, and a back note of roasted Brazil nuts all wrapped around a creme de cassis core. The palate has the upfront fruit of a New World Cabernet – think Sonoma Mountain with its black fruits, touch of earth, and then fine granular tannin structure. It also has the length and depth of a Bordeaux – those same tannins linger on the palate, giving the wine muscle and power, adding to the intensity of the flavors and aromas. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to drink this now (especially with steak Diane), but no need to rush – this will last at least half a decade in your cellar, if not longer.

I wasn’t the first to “discover” Montes Alpha, and I am certainly not the last – they’ve gone on to win very prestigious awards from Wine Spectator, get great ratings from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate as well as Decanter across the pond, and are now synonymous with high-quality Chilean wine. And while I may be ringing a bell you’ve already heard, what I have new is this amazing price. 

Critical acclaim:

"92 points. Dusty spices to the blackcurrants and plums with a touch of tobacco and a hint of chili chocolate. Medium- to full-bodied with fleshy mid-palate fruit and firm, fine-grained tannins. Generous and pleasing. Cabernet sauvignon from Apalta and Marchigue. Drink or hold." - James Suckling