Montes Twins 2012

montes-twinsI always thought I had good reason to fancy the wines of Aurelio Montes. After all, he had labels on his bottles designed by none other than Ralph Steadman. The mischievous talent whose splattered and violent sketches adorned Hunter Thompson’s books, Steadman embodied the elusive style that proper rock n roll practically monopolizes. But that’s another bottle of wine unto itself.

Labels aren’t enough reason to patronize, as proven out by the untold critter ploys of the wine world (looking at you, kangaroo). Montes had it, though. Their flagship Alpha series had sold me early. They were sexy, Chilean and bold. A dangerous mix.

Realistically, looking back through my notes, I paid plenty for the Montes experience along the way (bottles of Folly and Alpha M dwell on the northern side of $50) and results could be less than great. Complaints of overdone oak and lopsided quality emerged, but it should be noted that some were Chairman’s Selection purchases and the provenance of LCB stock can be, well, questionable. The most consistent were the moderately priced offerings – the Montes Alpha label (sans Steadman) in particular.

Recently, I sampled the Montes Twins, available for $15.99 in Pennsylvania. It’s a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, a lively and intensely colored package of red and dark fruits, spice and neat tannins. Its coiled, vibrant flavors, partly regal Cab with added huskiness of the smoky Malbec, are simultaneously polished and ready to rumble. The influence of the Cab emerges with more air, at least that’s when I began tasting bell pepper. There’s balance, moderate acidity and, at 14%, the alcohol is seamless. Less rewarding is a finish that’s longish but thin. With its twist top and Glimmer Twins verve, pair it with charbroiled burgers or tangy ribs.

Me? I’m tipping my glass to Ralph and Hunter: “We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the Cabernet began to take hold.”

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