JS 92 points, WA 88 points (2012)
The vineyards that produce the grapes for our Montes Alpha Pinot Noir are located in the Casablanca Valley and Zapallar; both are within the Aconcagua wine region.
All of the vineyards are trained to vertical shoot position and drip irrigated, yields range from 4,500 to 5,000 kg/hectare. Because vines have an excellent vegetative / productive balance, it is no necessary to adjust the load and canopy work is minimal. This also allows us to harvest healthy grapes with good balance.
Casablanca is 25 km (15.5 mi) from the Pacific coast, and Zapallar is just 7 km (4.3 mi) from the sea. This affords the grapes great freshness, minerality, and cold zone typicity. In both cases the soils are granitic with different percentages of clay, and there is a predominance of sandier zones.
Harvest Period: March 20–April 10
The 2012–2013 season was a bit colder than the previous season during budbreak, flowering, and fruit set. The spring presented more rainfall than the previous year, which encouraged faster and more vigorous vegetative growth (budbreak). Rainfall during flowering was slightly harmful to our vines because the flowers are very sensitive and tend to fall off. This had a pronounced effect on the cluster composition and resulted in looser berries.
The vegetative growth obligated us to take measures to control the growth with very controlled shoot pulling as well as tipping later in the season to prevent the formation of microclimates in the interior of the canopy that could present ideal conditions for fungal diseases.
The month of January and part of February were almost entirely cloudy, although no rain fell during this period. The lack of sunlight delayed the onset of veraison and slowed its progress. Harvest also began a little more than 10 days later than usual.
It was necessary to accompany the ripening period with certain viticultural tasks to enable the fruit to ripen evenly and reach harvest in good health. Leaves were partially pulled from around the bunches to improve airflow and exposure to sunlight in order to obtain more sugars and a heightened sense of creaminess in the fruit.
The low temperatures caused the grapes to ripen very slowly and allowed the Pinot Noir to maintain excellent levels of acidity and freshness; in all, it was a great season in both Casablanca and Zapallar.
The grapes were hand picked into 10-kg trays in the early hours of the morning in order to maintain the low temperatures and thus protect the aromas. Upon arrival at the winery, the bunches were carefully selected, destemmed, and the grapes inspected again.
The selected grapes were gently dropped into open-topped stainless steel tanks, and the whole berries underwent a 5-day pre-fermentation cold soak at 7º C (44.6º F) to gently extract color and aromas. We then raised the temperature and began fermenting with a combination of native and commercial yeasts. The process lasted approximately 7 days at 23º–26º C (73º–79º F) and included two pumpovers and punchdowns per day for better extraction, to keep the skins at a good temperature, and to encourage the work of the yeasts.
Total Acidity (H2SO4) 3.49 g/lt.
Residual Sugar 1.75 g/lt. pH 3.25 g/lt.
Volatile Acidity (C2H4O2) 0.58 g/lt.
Free SO2 0.036 g/lt.