WA 87 points (2010)
Our Montes Alpha Merlot is made with selected grapes from our Colchagua Valley vineyards grown under our “Dry Farming” philosophy. Under this system we leave nature to do the job of irrigation through rain. We don’t irrigate unless nature does not provide us with the enough minimum rain that we have determined our vines need in which case we irrigate to compensate the difference. Dry Farming increases the final quality of the wines with more ripe fruit, and more weight in the mouth, decreasing the use of water up to 65%.
Our Montes Alpha Merlot has a deep, violet-tinged ruby red color and tremendous aromatic potency with a special emphasis on ripe red and black fruits such as plums, blueberries, and cherries, as well as fresh caramel and a bit of black currant liqueur and complemented by notes of sweet spices, mocha, and lactic notes such as toffee. The French oak with moderately intense toast is very well integrated with the fruity aromas. The well-balanced palate features round tannins, very good structure, and a sensation of volume as well as tremendous persistence.
Harvest Period: March 26–May 11 Harvest Report: The weather during the 2011–2012 season presented very pronounced cold and hot periods. Rainfall was scant due to the influence of the La Niña phenomenon and concentrated during the winter months. The spring was cold and frost free, which was ideal for optimal foliage growth, flowering, and cluster definition. The summer was dry, clear, and without the cold and cloudy days presented during the previous season. Veraison began in mid-January, a little earlier than in the previous season, basically due to the predominance of clear and warm days during the rain-free summer. The peak temperatures in February and March made it necessary to start harvest a week earlier than in 2011. Phenolic maturation was very slow, and some lots of Merlot at our Apalta and Arcángel estates were picked two weeks later than in the previous year. Grape health was very good, and special care was taken upon reception to remove any bunches showing signs of dehydration, which is quite characteristic of this variety in very sunny and hot seasons.
The vineyards that produced the Merlot destined for our Montes Alpha wines are located at our Marchigüe and Apalta estates in the Colchagua Valley. Both areas have soils of granitic origin with differing levels of weathering. Both vary widely in terms of clay content, depth, and amount of organic matter. Apalta is very heterogeneous, with zones that are marked by the influence of the river and others influenced by mudslides and material that breaks loose from the surrounding mountains. The soils are generally deep on the flatland and thinner at the foot of the mountain and higher areas. The Merlot is planted on the flatlands and lower slopes where the soil is deeper and has moderate moisture retention. Marchigüe is flatter and has lower hills with moderate slopes. Its soils are rather shallow and in some cases no more than 60 cm deep, with medium clay content and a high capacity for water retention. The vineyards are located in the flat zones, which have a high degree of rounded stones (fluvial material) and are poor in clay. Our Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards are planted to a density of 5,555 plants/hectare (2,250 per acre) and managed in a double guyot system for a yield of approximately 7,000 kg/ha (2.8 ton/acre).
Denomination of Origin: Colchagua Valley.
Vine Selection: Clones 181, 184, 343 and others.
Filtering: Cartridge filters prior to bottling.
Vineyard Yield: 7 tons per hectare (2.8 tons per acre).
Grape Varieties: Merlot 90% – Carmenère 10%
Barrel Aging: 50% of the wine is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels with 1, 2, or 3 uses
Cellaring Recommendations: Can be enjoyed now or cellared for up to ten years.
Recommended Serving Temperature: 17º–19º C (62º–66º F).
Decanting: Best when decanted for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.
Food Pairing: Highly recommended with duck breast, lamb or pork chops, pasta with pesto, lamb masala, and chicken with mushroom sauce.
Total Acidity (H2 SO4) 3.65 g/lt.
Residual Sugar 3.5 g/lt. pH 3.39 g/lt.
Volatile Acidity (C2H4O2) 0.5 g/lt.
Free SO2 24 mg/lt.