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Senior editor Dana Nigro joined Wine Spectator in 1998. She is managing editor of WineSpectator.com.
Dana Nigro

A Top 100 Red Revisited

Viña Montes Syrah Colchagua Valley Alpha Apalta Vineyard 2005

Dana Nigro
Posted: April 8, 2010

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).

Learn more about vintner Aurelio Montes and the Apalta area of Chile's Colchagua Valley.

Roxanne-reed Cole
Martinez, CA, USA —  April 8, 2010 10:46pm ET
We have enjoyed Monte Alpha Syrah with Braised Short Ribs & Polenta, also Wild Boar fixed in the same style. This is a favorite of mine. The fruit combined with the peppery finish makes the connection for me.
Russell Quong
Sunnyvale, CA, USA —  April 16, 2010 8:52pm ET
This is one of my favorite wines year in and year out. I liked the 2006 a bit more than the 2005. And the nose of this wine pushes all my buttons the right way; the 2006 is one of the best ever.

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