2012 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon

Last weekend I went on a quest for 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Montes Alpha was a specific focus of that search. The latest edition of Wine Spectator piqued my interest in its coverage of Cab, and 2012s in particular. This Chilean red  (which includes 10% Merlot in its composition) lived up to all expectations, a luscious and fragrant beauty that was packed with scents of black fruit, herbs, and even a light metallic tang of some kind.

2012 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauivignon, Colchagua, Chile.

2012 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley, Chile.

This AVA in Colchagua, Chile, has a terroir that produces Cabernets that a bit of research tells me are similar to those from Pauillac in Haut-Medoc. This bottle was just under $20, though, and I suspect the French version would be at least three times that figure. Even cooler, in my mind, is that the vineyard’s grapes (from Apalta and Marchigue) are all sustainably dry farmed–they consume far less water than the norm, and produce a noteworthy outcome in the 2012 vintage.

We ate Swiss cheese and mushroom burgers and some ‘crispy crowns’ potatoes alongside this red. Tasting highlights from the Wine Spectator summary read, “Blackberry, graphite, and violet on a structural core of bright acid and plentiful tannin with a long molasses-scented finish.” All that being true, the 2012 Montes Alpha is a very worthwhile drink.

2014 Dona Dominga Merlot

Courtesy of U.S. Airlines is the 2014 Dona Dominga Merlot, and when you’re trapped in midair for a few hours you don’t get too picky about your vino options. And this particular bottle was served to me after escaping a snowy NYC airport and four hours of delays. The flakes were falling fast and furious, and I had had my fingers crossed the whole time hoping to get out. Delays and cancellations were happening all around me and my fellow passengers, so by the time we actually took flight the Dominga was perfect.

2014 Dona Dominga Merlot, Chile.

2014 Dona Dominga Merlot, Colchagua Valley, Chile.

Having said that, this one was less about a flavor profile or specific taste. Was it a bit too cold when served? Yes. But was it one of the best glasses of wine I’ve had in some time? Given the occasion, let me say absolutely.

2011 Casillero del Diablo Reserva White

A rare white wine entry among all the reds here on Notes–this is the 2011 Casillero del Diablo Reserva White. The Diablo originates from the Limarí Valley of Chile (does that make this northern Chilean area the root of all evil? or just great wine?), where the local climate imparts great tropical fruit notes to its white wines. The springtime temperatures, which can range from about 53 degrees at night to 77 by day, reminds me of Southern California and is just about ideal for growing tropical fruit. Or grapes, as it turns out.

2011 Casillero del Diablo Reserva White, Limarí Valley, Chile.

2011 Casillero del Diablo Reserva White, Limarí Valley, Chile.

We opened the Diablo midweek, just a little dinner beverage that we sipped for a meal or two before finishing it off tonight with some light but delicious sushi and sashimi. The 2011 Casillero del Diablo Reserva White is a blend of whites, folding together Chardonnay (65%) and Moscato (35%) that is plucked from vineyards along Chile’s coast. In this guy’s mind, the mix works well and especially for wine drinkers like me who are looking for more than a Pinot Grigio but often less than a Chardonnay in a white. Give it a go–you’ll probably get an immediate whiff of citrus when you uncork it.

The winemaker says it has scents of “…pineapple, citrus, peaches, and hints of honey…” I’m not sure about the honey but you can definitely appreciate the others both on the nose and on your palate. We’ve done Diablo wines in the past, and you can read about them here or here. I hope you give this one a shot yourself. It’s readily available, inexpensive, and pretty decent as a working man’s white wine.