A Hidden Chilean Gem Left Over from the Holidays

Ninquen is the second property that was acquired by Montgras between 1998 and 1999, but let’s back up a bit and talk about the main company first, before we find out what Ninquen is about.

Montgras was founded by Hernan Gras in 1993… and as it turns out Mr. Gras has a Canadian connection: he worked as winemaker for Bright’s from 1974 to 1992, then he returned to Chile to start his own project. Montgras started as a single property in the Colchagua Valley, which is now its home base with 200 hectares of land, of which 165 hectares are planted. Montgras now owns four more properties throughout Chile.

Montgras has always been about finding the right varieties for the right piece of soil, so when it acquired its second property, Ninquen (1998-99), it planted only Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Ninquen is a 300-hectare property with only 100 hectares planted.  Ninquen is unique as it shares the winery with the original Montgras – two wineries in one building – but they have completely separate operations: one winery takes one half of the building while the other takes up the other half, keeping all winemaking operations separate right down to the tanks and press.

And for those wondering, Montgras is no small company. It makes one million cases per year.

As for the wine, this Ninquen Antu 2010 Syrah ($16.95 – #675371) is an awesome value for this quality Syrah. A nose loaded with white pepper, chocolate and licorice goes along with what some might consider a hot nose (ripe with alcohol) – but that’s up to your olfactories to decide.  Seventeen months in, 50% new oak has produced a wine rich in tannins, but balanced of fruit and a very hot climate 14.6% alcohol – though it does not drink ”hot”; in fact, it’s incredibly approachable. Palate is mainly fruit-driven with white pepper notes and a pleasant smokiness –some vanilla nuances play around on the finish.  Well balanced yet intense.  Price only makes this one even more of a steal.

Ninquen Antu 2010 Syrah – $16.95, #675371) – (Rating: ****+ = Very Good Plus)