Viña Montes, one of Chile's most consistent wineries, has released its 2000 Folly, a 100 percent Syrah from its vineyard in the Apalta Valley. The wine scored 92 points when reviewed recently after its debut, putting it in a five-way tie for the highest score ever given to a Chilean wine by Wine Spectator.
Going on a hunch that Syrah could produce world-class wine in Chile, winemaker Aurelio Montes and his team began in 1990 to clear extremely rocky soil on south-facing slopes -- uncommon for vineyards in the Southern Hemisphere. The vineyard, located in Santa Cruz, at the western end of the Colchagua Valley, is steeply terraced, and the Syrah -- also uncommon in Chile -- in the highest-elevation portion, from which Folly is sourced, was planted in 1996. The seeming folly of Montes' effort resulted in the name of the wine.
The wine, which is aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels, shows gorgeous blackberry and boysenberry fruit, with opulent toast, and mineral and spice notes. The robust tannins need some time to soften, but the wine makes a serious case for Syrah's future in Chile. The Viña Montes Folly Santa Cruz 2000 retails for $70, and there were 665 cases made, 150 cases of which were imported into the United States.
The other four top-rated Chilean wines are Cabernet- or Carmenère-based blends: Seña Aconcagua Valley 1996 (92, $50), Viña Almaviva Puente Alto 1999 (92, $91), Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta Rapel Valley 1999 (92, $55) -- and Viña Montes' other high-end wine, from the same area as Folly, the Alpha M Santa Cruz 1999 (92, $72).
Check our past ratings of Viña Montes wines.
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Read James Molesworth's recent tasting reports on Chilean wines: