(National Geographic) Hypnotic Music Ages This Wine to Perfection
Scientific studies suggest that soft tunes make better tasting vino–and Chile’s vineyards are taking note
Nestled at the bottom of the rolling hills and green vineyards of Chile’s Colchagua Valley sits a winery where the vino ages to the hypnotic sound of Gregorian chants. Known for its visionary winemaking techniques, Montes Wines opened in 1987 and has been playing music to mature its wine since 2004.
In the cellar, 800 French oak barrels, striped with an aesthetic deep red, rest in a semicircle. The space was crafted to provide an atmosphere of serenity and mystique—an ideal environment to create the ripe and juicy reds that make the Colchagua region famous. For Montes Wines, it’s also a place seemingly favored by angels, reflected by the aptly named and highly rated Purple Angel Carmenére produced there.
With a mission to revitalize the production of quality Chilean wines, Montes founders Aurelio Montes and Douglas Murray discovered the use of music, specifically monastic chants, enhanced the taste of their product.
“There are studies that prove that soft vibrations make the liquids perform a better aging than in silence or with strident music,” says Montes. The Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh performed one of those studies specifically for Montes’ Aurelio wine in 2008. Researchers found that red wine taste was altered 40 percent by powerful and heavy music, and 25 percent by mellow music. Drinkers rated white wine more refreshing when music considered “zingy and refreshing” was played. Other winemakers are following in the steps of Montes, including Chilean Juan Ledesma of Terroir Sonoro, who plunges music speakers directly into the barrels.
The imaginative techniques employed by Montes Wines extend beyond the innovative use of cymatics (or wave phenomena). The entire winery was built with the principles of feng shui in mind. All the basic elements—think water, metal, wood—are incorporated into the design, with water flowing from outside the winery into a fountain at the center of the building. In the feng shui tradition, water is deemed the ultimate symbol of abundance, and the careful placement of the lily-shaped fountain is intended as a way to connect the building with the prosperous energy of the universe.
The meticulous planning behind each element of the stylish winery makes tours of Montes Wines a study not only of winemaking, but of architecture and the power of acoustics. The innovative, “good vibes” spirit has paid off well for the company, which is lauded as one of the country’s premiere producers. Sacred song and harmonious energy—it’s nothing but the best for the grapes at Montes Wines.