Montes Alpha Aconcagua Pinot Noir 2016  £13.95

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Montes was established in 1988 by Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, with the aim of producing the best wines in Chile from the best regions. The Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, first produced in 1987, broke the mould for premium wines in Chile. Since then, Alpha has developed to become the core range in the Montes portfolio. The grapes and sites are carefully selected in order to ensure varietal integrity and complexity. Viticulture is hands on rather than mechanical or industrial.

The Pinot Noir vineyards are planted on gently rolling hills with different aspects and are trained to vertical shoot position. The sites are irrigated via a 'Sustainable Dry Farmed' system, developed by Aurelio and his team, which allows for extremely precise and minimal irrigating, reducing their water footprint by 65%. The vines only require minimal work with the canopy, which enables the growers to obtain healthy grapes with good balance at harvest time. Yields vary between 7,000 and 8,000 kilograms per hectare. The proximity of the vineyards to the Pacific coast endows the wine with tremendous freshness, minerality, and cold-climate typicity. The granitic soils of the Coastal Mountains have varying percentages of clay, which contributes elegance, creaminess and a unique sense of place.

The 2015—2016 was good for water availability, with an optimal amount of water in the soil during flowering. Summer was not very hot, with only a few heat spikes in January and February. Ripening was therefore later than in previous years by around 12 days, which gave time to monitor the taste of the berries and select the picking moment very precisely.

The grapes were cold soaked at 10°C for 5-7 days to extract aroma and colour, especially important for thin-skinned Pinot Noir. After that, the must was fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and then kept on the skins to give structure and colour for another 15-20 days. After malolactic fermentation, the final blend was aged in French oak barrels (25% new) for 10-12 months.

This Pinot Noir is bright ruby red in colour. The nose presents aromas of ripe cherries and raspberries, white pepper and a touch of violets. Medium-bodied, the palate has silky, smooth tannins, fresh and vibrant acidity, and shows well-integrated French oak. The long and perfumed finish is smooth and elegant.

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