Two vintages of Montes Alpha Cabernet: how much of a difference does irrigation make?


Thought that all Chilean vineyards were irrigated with water from the Andes? Think again…

(JAN 2017 UPDATE – see end of this post…)

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Colchagua, Chile (£12.99 D Byrne & Co, Wright Wine Company, Gwin Llyn Wines, Hay Wines, The Old Bridge Wine Shop, Hennings Wine Merchants, Winedirect.co.uk, Toke’s Food & Drink, Aitken Wines, The Fine Wine Company, Cornelius Beer & Wine, New Forest Wines)
Classic Chilean blackcurrant pastilles, some plum in there too, with herby overtones and the slightly dry tannic edge of new oak, reasonable flavours, but there’s just a touch of what the Australians call ‘dead fruit’, where some of the grapes seem to have begun to shrivel on the vine. But still a decent drop. B(+)

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Colchagua, Chile (£12.99 D Byrne & Co, Wright Wine Company, Gwin Llyn Wines, Hay Wines, The Old Bridge Wine Shop, Hennings Wine Merchants, Winedirect.co.uk, Toke’s Food & Drink, Aitken Wines, The Fine Wine Company, Cornelius Beer & Wine, New Forest Wines)
Very similar plummy blackcurrant pastilles and the edge of oak, but this feel more fleshy and less baked (as in the baked bits that stick to the side of the dish when your crumble cooks), and there’s also a light savoury/salty character to add further interest. S(-)

*** JAN 2017 UPDATE ***
Just had the following through from Aurelio Montes regarding the impact of the company’s water-saving efforts:-
“One of my biggest concerns is water scarcity. An important part of our R&D efforts are devoted to finding ways to minimize our water consumption and footprint, and this is set to continue in 2017.  In addition to our “Dry Farming” initiative, which has allowed us to reduce our water consumption up to 65%, we no longer use “vertical shoot” positioning but rather have free, unwired foliage, which allows leaves and grapes to grow freely in semi-shade. This has lowered the height of our shoots from 120cm to 80cm, and has reduced water intake by 11%. We have also waterproofed one of the reservoirs at our Marchigue Estate.  We covered more than 25 acres of our first reservoir with an impermeable geomembrane liner, which reduced the leakage from seven litres/second to zero. So now, if a season is particularly warm and we are faced with the need to irrigate to meet the minimal water needs our Dry Farming studies shows the vines need,  we have available water that before was lost.”

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