MontGras was a pleasant surprise. We wandered in without an appointment hoping to do a simple tasting. Two hours later, after touring the vineyards, tasting through five wines, and listening to endless stories of the region and the winery from our host Cristián Olate (the brother of our host Josue at Emiliana, strangely enough), we left, thankful that we had made this random stop. And the wines are pretty good, too.
|MontGras' Cristian Olate, our fantastic guide for the afternoon|
MontGras was founded in 1992 by Hernan and Eduardo Gras along with Cristián Hartwig (of Laura Hartwig) in the commune of Palmilla. Vinifera grapes had grown at the estate since before the 1850s, mainly País and Garnacha Tintorera. Now the vineyards span more than 900 hectares in Colchagua, Leyda, and Maipo. The Leyda parcels specialize in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc; the Maipo contribution is Cabernet, of course; Syrah, Carmenere, Viognier, and Cabernet are grown in Colchagua along with a little Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Here are the wines we tasted with Cristian:
2009 MontGras Reserva Sauvignon Blanc
Hailing from Leyda, this wine exhibits the characteristic saltiness of the region. Tropical fruits dominate the nose and palate, with a bright acidic grapefruity finish. But watch out: its refreshingly light feel belies its 14% alcohol content. This would be great with seafood.
2010 Pink Sin
An “early harvest” (for reasons discussed above) Zinfandel rosé. Light salmon in color with aromas of rosewater, candy strawberries, and red licorice. Slightly sweet and simple, but a nice aperitif or pairing for sushi.
2009 MontGras Reserva Merlot
These grapes were grown in Colchagua. Aging in mostly American oak gives a cinnamon spiciness. Lots of red fruit and plum. Paired with a bacon-wrapped prune… delicious!
2010 MontGras Reserva Carmenere
Spicy, intense perfume. Ripe blackberries and cherries make a great pairing for a spicy Spanish chorizo.
2008 Antu Ninquén Syrah
My favorite of the lineup. The grapes for this one come from the hillsides of Ninquén Mountain. Considered MontGras’ ultrapremium wine, the focus here is on structure. Floral notes and blackberry shine through the sturdy but soft tannins. I think this shouldn’t be opened for another year, though.
Overall the wines were excellent and have great quality to price ratios (they are virtually a steal). I definitely recommend picking up a few bottles of MontGras, which are readily available in US markets. For more information visit MontGras’ website here.