by Ramir Camu
This past week we were treated to a classic rivalry between two South American powerhouses, Chile vs Argentina, and no, I’m not talking about soccer. A wine tasting to remember held at Salum, the fantastic Uptown staple headed by Chef/Owner Abraham Salum, featured wines from a Father and Son team of Montes Wines from Chile and Kaiken Wines from Argentina.
To open the tasting, we were greeted at the door by a beautiful, fresh and crisp sparkling wine, perfect for our Dallas mid winter heat wave.
After initial pleasantries and introductions, Aurelio Montes Sr. shared with us the story of how he embarked in the world of winemaking in his home country of Chile over 30 years ago. Back then when this was still considered a high-risk venture he founded Viña Montes and in 2002 expanded into the Mendoza region of Argentina where the journey of making wine on both sides of the Andes began when he created Kaiken Wines.
The love of winemaking was passed down to Aurelio Montes Jr who following in his father’s footsteps joined the family business and took charge of the Argentina side of the business.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this event was getting to sample side-by-side wines of the same year, same varietal, similar wine making process, and experiencing the difference that climates and terroir can produce in the final product.
Some of the highlights of the tasting of more than 13 wines from both wineries include the Kaiken Obertura 2014, a 100% Cab Franc, which in itself is a bold move. Well balanced, silky and elegant with notes of red currant, plums and the spiciness of black pepper. The Montes Outer Limit, another favorite of mine, hails from the Chilean side. A blend of 50% Carignan, 30% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre is fruity with notes of figs and berries. A wine that because of the blend is very unique for that region.
The 2012 Montes Alpha M, one of their higher end wines and a clear standout has a great balance between fruitiness of plums and raspberries and the notes of vanilla and caramel.
To end the tasting on a high note, we sampled a vertical for Taita 2007, 2009 and 2010. These are very small productions of 3000 bottles, and are wines that can go head-to-head with some of the best of Napa and Bordeaux. At $250 a bottle, it is one of the most expensive wines of the region, but also one of the top rated. High alcohol content at 15%, this one is to enjoy with a special someone.
Abraham did not disappoint with a lunch menu that paired perfectly with the wine from the Montes family. Starting off with a fresh Salmon and Scallop Crudo, Texas Grapefruit, Orange Blossom Oil and Parmesan Crisps along with a Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2016. As a second course we were treated to a tian of braised lamb with a rosemary salsify puree plum gastrique paired with the Kaiken Obertura, which was one of my favorites. To end the lunch on a high note, a bittersweet chocolate and sticky date pudding was served with the powerful Montes Alpha M 2012.
To say that my afternoon after this lunch was very unproductive is a major understatement, but it was well worth it.