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.
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.
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.
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.
We’re at cruising altitude over the East Coast and I sip the 2012 Merlot offered by Dona Dominga, a Chilean wine from the Colchagua Valley region. This leg of the journey home is but a short hop, so allowing this red to breathe is not really much of an option. Even now I think the captain is pinging the bell that signifies the start of our descent but I am determined to enjoy the beautiful sky, sunny here above the clouds, until we pivot for the ground…
…And to enjoy too the Dominga. This clever little bottle displays the Chilean “Huaso” dance and, while the bottle itself shows some signs of wear, the grapes inside have kept comfortable; ready and ripe for sampling they swirl around this fancy US Airways plastic cup and beg for a better venue—and better glassware.
This Merlot, despite going immediately from bottle to taste buds, holds up reasonably well. It’s fragrant enough to send notes throughout my personal space, both lighter than a Cab and heavier than a Pinot Noir. As I swirl my glass here in the sunlight streaming through the window, the Dona Dominga almost looks like a blood offering to this weary traveler. On the palate the Dominga is surprisingly gentle and its scent a plum/berry combination. Just 187ML to sample and it’s nearly gone already.
Definitely not blackberries here; almost a cherry/strawberry vibe that I might not pick if I read it on a label…but a treat nonetheless as we streak homeward. I do like Meomi and know that US Airways doesn’t offer it on flights this short, so your choices for red are essentially the Tunupa and the Dominga. Twice previously I’ve gone with the former yet think I’ll repeat the Dominga on the next such occasion. I’m in good spirits (no pun intended) and hope you are too, wherever you’re reading this. Thanks for your continued interest and kind regards.