Talk of Angels and Folly

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
December 2, 2009

Montes Folly 2006 wine label

Montes Purple Angel

Puro Wine
(06 Montes Folly)
161 Centre St
@ Grand St
New York, NY 10013

Beekman Liquors
(06 Purple Angel)
500 Lexington Ave
(47th & 48th Sts)
New York, NY 10017

We all love the stories behind a wine from the origin of the winery’s name to the label design, the wine’s name, and the blend of a bottling. Recently, while tasting through a range of wines from Chile’s Montes Winery with chief winemaker and president Aurelio Montes, I found two wines that really excited my taste buds and both happen to have great stories behind their names. One is about insanity and the other about miracles.

Montes Folly, a top-end 100% Syrah wine, was so named as a reminder of everyone’s reaction to Aurelio’s strong conviction to grow Syrah in 1999 (the first in Chile) on very steep (45 plus degrees) slopes in the Apalta Mountains. The winemaker was thought to be crazy! But time has proven the opposite. The 06 Folly ($85) was my favorite wine in his portfolio. With a nose of violet and lush blueberries on the palate, it’s intense in flavor but, just like a blueberry, balanced with acidity. A smooth operator.

The angel on Montes’ label is easily recognizable as the winery has been around since 1988 and is exported to seventy-five countries from Cook Islands to Kabul. Montes also has a series of wines with “angel” in the name, so I asked Aurelio, “Why the angel?” And the answer was definitely not what I expected.

His partner, Douglas Murray, loved cars and fast driving. Twice, due to this personal love, he was in two serious car accidents that should have taken his life. Murray says it’s a miracle that he’s alive and thanks his guardian angel for this.

I was especially thrilled to try the 06 Purple Angel ($56) since it made of 92% Carmenère and 8% Petit Verdot, a blend that had me both curious and hopeful. Dark but not heavy, this wine is filled with spice and blackberries. Needless to say, it lived up to my expectations and more.

Well, Aurelio is definitely not crazy, nor is the success of his winery a miracle, but the angels on his labels serve as goodwill ambassadors to remind us that folly is in the eye of the beholder, and perhaps we all have guardian angels above us after all.

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