At the beginning of this year, I pulled out a bunch of wines from my collection that were nearing the end of their recommended drink windows, so I could enjoy them over the coming months. Among them was Montes' 2005 Alpha Syrah, which had earned a spot on our Top 100 Wines of 2007. My most recent experience with this Chilean red had not been a good one; the bottle was marred by off aromas—gluey, rubbery ones under which beautiful ripe fruit was still evident. So I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened my last bottle with dinner.
Fortunately, this bottle was in perfect condition—everything I'd come to expect from one of Chile's leading producers. The dark fruit aromas were punctuated only by a pleasant, dusty earth note, cocoa powder and pepper. Set against a simple grilled flank steak, the wine unveiled bold, sleek flavors of black cherry, blackberry and black plums over a strong core of acidity and minerality, with dashes of cocoa powder and bitter chocolate, plus black pepper on the finish. 92 points, non-blind.
The Alpha Syrah bottling comes from Montes' hillside vineyards in Apalta, a cool area in the generally warm Colchagua Valley, and contains 7 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 3 percent Viognier. In his original review, my colleague James Molesworth suggested the wine would be best through 2009, and though it seems to be at its peak, it should have a couple more good years ahead.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Viña Montes Syrah Colchagua Valley Alpha Apalta Vineyard 2005 ( 92, $25; Top 100 of 2007, No. 30).