AT A GLANCE:
Name of wine estate: Montes
Wine region: Colchagua Valley
Standout points: Francis Mallmann’s Fuegos de Apalta restaurant; the feng shui-ed Montes winery
Winemaker: Aurelio Montes
Wine style: Full-bodied New World reds
One is likely to feel a striking sense of peace when visiting the beautiful Montes winery. Maybe it’s the Finca de Apalta winery itself, surrounded by Carmenère vineyards and constructed in 2004 using the principles of feng shui. Maybe it’s the vibrations emanating from the barrel room, where Aurelio Montes’s wines mature to the sound of Gregorian chant. Maybe it’s the heavenly view of the surrounding Apalta Valley and the 400-odd hectares of native forest owned and protected by Montes. Most likely it’s a combination of all these things which makes Montes one of the most affecting wine destinations in Chile.
Breaking new ground
Montes started life three decades ago as the dream of four friends – Alfredo Vidaurre, Douglas Murray, Pedro Grand and Aurelio Montes. With the protective barrier of the Andes on one side, proximity to the sea on the other and low disease pressure in the vineyards, they identified that Chile had the perfect conditions to make high-quality wines. Many great wines later (including the flagships Purple Angel, Folly and Montes Alpha) Viña Montes’ success has paved the way for a plethora of groundbreaking projects. Most recently, the planting of a new vineyard on the island of Mechuque in Chile’s extreme south – at a latitude never before attempted.
Food for thought
For anyone visiting Colchagua, Viña Montes offers three main tours through which you can take a deep dive into Chilean terroir and the elaboration of Montes’ wines, including the effect of sacred chanting on their maturation! Possibly the star attraction, however, is the gastronomy. Depending on the season, lunch or dinner at Fuegos de Apalta restaurant, situated in the middle of the vineyards, is non-negotiable. This is the restaurant of the fire-loving Argentine chef Francis Mallmann. Take your pick from meat, fish, and vegetables prepared with different types of fire in a specially designed dome located in the centre of the restaurant.
And don’t forget the view from the Mirador del Ángel, highlighting a dreamlike vista which is almost worth the trip in itself.