Wednesday, October 20, 2010

TN: Montes Alpha 2007 Carménère

Sometimes I wonder why I don't pick up more Chilean wines, especially those made from the quasi-indigenous Carménère (car-men-air) grape variety. But then a wine like the Montes Alpha 2007 Carménère comes along and reminds me that Chile can spoof up wines with the best of them. You just never really know if you'll be getting a tasty Internationally styled wine or one so overdone that it's borderline undrinkable.

This isn't a truly bad wine, but it completely paves over the fruit with a highway of oak and extraction. This is some anonymous dark extracted tannic red wine aged in some new oak barrels--I'd be unsurprised if staves and oak chips were involved as well--nothing more. There's zero character, which utterly defeats the purpose of having a unique varietal.

For $16, this is a D- effort. I don't have terribly high expectations at this price point, but balance is one of them. Incidentally, this got 91 points from both the Wine Advocate (well, my nemesis Jay Miller to be precise) and Wine Enthusiast. I can see why this could appeal in a brief tasting since it's flashy upfront. But the critics completely missed as far as I'm concerned because this is a shallow, cynical imitation of better wines.
  • 2007 Montes Carménère Alpha Marchigüe - Chile, Central Valley, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
    I've never licked the inside of a barrel, but I suspect this wine is a decent approximation. Vanilla slathered cedar aromas with some black currant underneath it. Not bad on the attack with dark fruit. But hollows out rapidly in the mid-palate until there's nothing left but oak and over-roasted Starbucks coffee and a sticky caramel flavor on the finish. Very cynical and spoofulated, though not technically flawed. No varietal character (where's the veggies?) whatsoever, no sense of place. It's been a while since I've had a wine as anonymous as this. Not enough acidity, either.

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