#SommNextDoor: Two Generations of Winemakers Innovating in Chile and Argentina, Montes Wines and Kaiken

A few weeks back, the family at Kaiken gave us some insight on their farming methods, migration, and inspiration. Well, their story is so fascinating that we wanted to give a deeper look into their history and outcomes:

Chilean roots

Montes Wines was started in 1988 by a group of four men – a winemaker, a marketer, a viticulture engineer, and a financial expert. These four set out on a mission to create the finest, ultra premium wines that Chile had ever produced.

The idea was scoffed at and considered ridiculous at the time of its conception. However, the Montes team proved it could be done. Montes’ founding winemaker, Aurelio Montes, Sr., is considered the “father of Chilean wine” for all of his contributions to the Chilean wine industry. He studied agronomy in college and later concentrated on enology, often experimenting with different winemaking methods and techniques. He always searched for a better, more innovative way to do things.

Aurelio was one of the first winemakers in Chile to use commercial yeast. This was an alternative to the reliance on native yeast for fermentation. Since the beginning of Montes Wines, Aurelio focused on sustainability in the vineyard and winery; not simply on organics. The Montes brand believes in being stewards of the land and taking care of the people who work the land and produce the wine.

Dos Generaciones, Una Vida de InnovaciónAurelio Montes Sr, winemaker of Montes

Argentinian chapter

In 2002, Montes expanded its borders by starting Kaiken, a new wine project in Mendoza, Argentina. “Kaiken” comes from the Patagonian geese that fly across the Andes from Chile and Argentina – similar to how the Montes family flies from one side of the Andes to the other.

Aurelio Montes, Jr. was “born in a barrel” and began working in the winery at ten years old. A trip to Napa Valley at fifteen years old ignited a desire to follow after his father’s path and continue the family winemaking legacy. Junior studied enology at Chile’s Catholic University and worked harvests in France, Argentina, Australia, and Napa Valley to learn how other regions and winemakers approach winemaking. He eventually joined the Montes team in 2011 as head winemaker of Kaiken wines.

Dos Generaciones, Una Vida de InnovaciónAurelio Montes Junior, winemaker of Kaiken

Like father like son, Junior experimented with varieties not commonly planted in Mendoza. His goal was to prove that Argentina is more than just Malbec. Junior developed an appreciation for Cabernet Franc and decided to test out how Cabernet Franc performed in Mendoza.

The results

Kaiken’s Obertura Cabernet Franc was a success. It demonstrated the Kaiken spirit of innovation and exploration.The fruit comes from the highly regarded Valle de Uco within the Vistaflores designation. It’s all hand-picked and sorted and rests for twelve months in neutral French Oak barrels.

The 2014 Obertura ($35) is fleshy, sensual, and inviting with aromas of licorice, blueberry and blackberry jam, cloves, and floral perfume. In the mouth, it retains freshness and acidity with hints of minerality. This wine is heavenly and will make your eyes roll back like a much needed deep tissue massage.

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