Montes Merlot 2005

I suppose I was tempting fate by opening a cheapy after all the super Kiwi wines I’ve been having of late. However, one (or at least I) can’t drink at the $50 price point every day, so cheapies I must. We’re lucky in Australia to have a large range of reasonably priced wines that are far superior to industrial swill, so it has been reasonable to expect in the last few years that $15 or so will yield a wine of character and interest. So what does that amount of money buy one from Chile?

On the basis of this wine, a whole lot of DMS and not much else. On the nose, rather characterless with that signature DMS note of ultra blackcurrant flip-flopping with tinned corn (thankfully no two day old raw mussels). The entry is slippery and introduces a palate with more blackcurrant juice in the context of a mouthfeel that is all about smoothness. But it’s not tannin or acid smoothless, it’s actually a lack of these things that creates an almost watery effect. Certainly easy to drink, and for those challenged by a perceived “harshness” in most red wines might enjoy the ease of this wine. There are some sweet oak characters too, subtle and well judged in terms of what this wine is. Tannins start to creep in a little on the finish, but it’s nothing too harsh and doesn’t begin to challenge any other aspect of this wine.

So, what to think? Certainly, I found this wine boring to the extent of wondering what is its point. Reading the back label, the wine is described as an “elegant and refined wine with a marked fruitiness almost irresistible to Merlot lovers.” And yes, it has a “marked fruitiness” (if we accept the super blackcurrant juice flavour as fruit driven) that is inoffensive and very easy to drink. To be honest, though, there are a lot of local wines that are of considerably greater interest to this at a similar price point. 

Price: $A10
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: December 2007

9 thoughts on “Montes Merlot 2005

  1. I have a case of S. American wines (Chile, Argentina) to drink. But each time I look at the bottles I feel a distinct lack of motivation. You note has not changed by hesitation!

  2. I felt sort of guilty after I wrote this note, as it’s a bit like judging all Australian wines by tasting a bottle of Bin 65. I say have a crack at those South Americans and let us know what you think 🙂

  3. That’s very disappointing! I just read your second note (the Serrera wine) and it sounds on a par with the first. Hopefully the next will be an improvement. I’ll make a point of tasting some better quality South Americans in the near future.

  4. I think it hardly appropriate and rather sad to right a continent off for a montes 10 usd bottle?

    What is it with the anti South American vibes I am getting from blogs as if they were second rate wines?

    I say Poppycock. I am living here in Chile for a few years now and cannot think of a place where 20 to 30 usd buys a better bottle of wine bar none.

    Seems everyone drinks 10 dollar plonk or 70 dollar ultra super. Its in the middle guys just like Cali or Australia.

    We can all agree to pooop on the expensive stuff if it is not our favorite or from where we tend to like our wines but give the glorious middle a chance on the argy malbecs (catena zapata) or the chileans shot on the mountain cabs (anything that says alto something like alto maipo — and or the syrahs form the north!


    i liked the site and comments on the wines til i bumper into a chilean and my surging thirst skidded to a stop … djmk

  5. Hi Derek,

    Thanks for the comment! It’s great to get a perspective from “the source,” as it were. I was disappointed with this bottle, to be sure, but I hope I wasn’t writing off an entire industry on that basis. Indeed, although my own exposure is sadly lacking, I know Chris (my co-author) is a fan as are many others around the world.

    I’m certainly keen to try more. Perhaps you could offer some suggestions in this regard?



  6. In no particular order of preference I think some interesting things coming out of Chile today between 15 and 30 usd mas menos are :

    De Martino Single Vineyard series – terroirs from all over Chile Marcelo Retamal great winemaker well travelled (has helped make some aussie wines too in his day.

    Perez Cruz – most anything and the Cot / malbec NOT is great (round and fuzzy tendency but interesting)

    El Principal – Memorias (hope you can fInd it!)

    Sideral (san pedro) – very very sexy and superior to its big brother

    Loma Larga – Cabernet Franc (ineteresting cold climate cab franc – keep an open mind and you shall convert)

    Gillmore – Hacedor de Mundos *dry farming euro acidity big concentration great bottle a wine)

    Erasmus – tight and grippy wonderful in 5-6 years more

    Falernia – Syrah (older the better) terrific

    Tamaya – Syrah getting better every year

    Ventisquero – Vertice chock a block

    Garage Wine Co. # 14 (mountain cab with big shoulders raucous self-promotion this last one I admit!)

    cheers hope that helps


  7. I agree with you saying that you should not judge Aussie wine by the Bin 65. Saying South American wine is not good or lacks personality certainly shows a little [a lot rather] lack of knowledge of the Chilean and Argentine wines, I also agree with some of the recommendations and I add some more;

    * Perez Cruz Ltd Ed Carmenere
    * De Martino Legado Merlot
    * Santa Rita Reserva Sauv Blanc
    * Felipe Rutini Reserva Malbec

    A good thing to remember is that when we are in Australia, we tend to judge things for what we see locally and not for what they are globally. South American wines are the ‘go’ in many countries, as Aussie wine are in others…

    • Hi Mario,

      Thanks so much for your comment. As I mentioned above, I hope I wasn’t giving the impression of judging an entire country’s wines by one cheap sample. Indeed, you’d have to have been living under a rock the last few years not to be aware of the buzz around South American wines.

      Thanks for noting a few more recommendations for me to seek out.



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