Montes Launches New Iconic Chilean Wine 'Taita'

On the evening of Oct. 21 in New York City, the innovative Chilean winemaker Aurelio Montes will host the American launch of his iconic new Chilean red wine, "Taita," a single-vineyard, cabernet sauvignon-dominated blend that has been six years in the making.

Only 1,000 cases of three bottles each were produced from the initial 2007 vintage, and the selling price is about $300 per bottle. "Taita," which is an affectionate Chilean term for a wise father or a father image, was a name coined by Montes' late business partner Douglas Murray. The wine comes from a single vineyard in the Colchagua Valley called Marchigüe, located about 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean at the terminus of a glacial moraine that left a bed of rounded stones ideal for producing Bordeaux-style grapes.

[pullquote:left] Since 1988, Montes and his team have made very impressive wines, first in Chile, then in Argentina, and now in the United States in Napa Valley and Paso Robles, and have exhibited very innovative thinking in both wine production and marketing. Montes made hillside vineyards popular in Chile, pioneered grape-growing in the cool Leyda Valley, was among the first to make world-class syrah in Chile, and used feng shui principles in designing his newest winery.

To taste the 2007 Taita is like pulling the cork on an elegant, yet assertive, cru classé Médoc, perhaps even a first growth from Pauillac or St-Éstephe. The opening aromas and first tastes are of a big, very-tannic, vinous wine — cassis, elderberry, black raspberry, dried blackberries, eau de vie notes, and both creamy and bitter chocolates. Before airing, the tannins are mouth-drying, but even right out of the bottle they cannot hide a playful note of purple, creamy fruit that lingers on the palate. 

Of course, the wine should be decanted for an hour or more to bring out its elegance. Tasted after such a decanting, and again early the next morning as I did, the wine, of course, becomes smoother and more-sophisticated. The creaminess of the fruit is emphasized, but none of the brooding, concentrated, complex fruit flavors are lost, plus a few savory notes begin to develop more fully.

Montes recommends at least 15 years in the cellar before drinking, and Taita, with its big fruits, big tannins, and big alcohol (15 per cent), can literally last a lifetime. It would be an ideal gift to buy as a birth-year wine for a child or grandchild born in 2007, with the idea of sharing it with her or him in 2028.

Taita is 85 percent cabernet, and Montes intends to keep about that formula each vintage, with the other 15 percent being whatever red grapes of the harvest have impressed him.

"Taita" had its world launch earlier this summer at Vinexpo in Bordeaux.