Although relatively new to today’s wine drinkers, Chile’s winemaking goes back 450 years, making it one of the oldest “New World” wine-producing countries. Traditional Bordeaux varietals were introduced in 1851 from cuttings brought to the country by Don Silvestre Ochagavia including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillon.
Geologically speaking, Chile sits atop a landmass that is the result of two of the Earth’s tectonic plates colliding into each other 60 million years ago creating the Andes mountains range. Because of these tectonic plates, Chile is still susceptible to earthquakes, with the most recent major 8.8-strength taking place in February 2010. Chile’s unique, narrow but long orientation allows it feature a broad diversity of geographic features including deserts, altiplanos, prehistoric forests, lakes, volcanoes, fjords, glaciers, ice floes, and pampas. In the center of it all is Chile’s Mediterranean-climate which creates ideal conditions for vine growing.
Central to all of this is Montes’ La Finca de Apalta vineyard, which lies in the center of the Apalta region within the larger Colchagua Valley. With an altitude of 1300 to 1600 ft. above sea-level, the vineyard is planted on the steeper slopes of the Apalta region to maximize sun exposure and vine stress, leading to greater concentration and complexity in the grape clusters. The Apalta vineyard varietals focus on French red varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon (148 acres), Petit Verdot (74 acres), Carmenère (74 acres), and Syrah (49 acres).
The Marchigüe vineyard sits in the Northwestern corner of the Colchagua Valley. This cooler, 1384 acre site sits about 650 feet above sea level with gently undulating slopes that allow for a broader array of varietals to reach optimal ripeness. Included in the varieties planted are Cabernet Sauvignon (741 acres), Carmenère (198 acres), Syrah (148 acres), Merlot (124 acres), Malbec (99 acres), Chardonnay (49 acres), Petit Verdot (12 acres), and Tannat (12 acres).
Smallest in size for Montes’ main vineyard sites is the relatively new Zapallar Vineyard, which features 136 acres sited in the coastal reaches of the Aconcagua Valley. With a pronounced cooler climate due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Zapallar features Pinot Noir (74 acres), Sauvignon Blanc (32 acres), Chardonnay (20 acres), and Syrah (10 acres).