Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Concha y Toro's Cabernet Sauvignon Wines

Starting each new year, I begin a major wine research project of focus. In the past I've started projects on new world Pinot Noir, Champagne, Alsace whites, and this year I kick off 2017 as my year of New World Cabernet Sauvignon. This year I will focus my red wine tastings on Cab Sauvs from Chile, California, Washington State, Australia and Canada (can't forget the home wine region, of course!) The first project kicked off during the holiday season, where my husband, father-in-law and I tasted 4 of the Cabernet Sauvignons crafted by Chilean wine powerhouse Concha y Toro.

Founded in 1883, Concha y Toro is regarded as one of the oldest and most well-known wineries in Chile. With a wide variety of experienced winemakers at the helm, Concha y Toro is making waves in the wine world, most notably with Cabernet Sauvignon. Click here to learn more about the winery in detail.

So what makes Chile such a great hotbed for growing remarkable Cabernet Sauvignon?
The DO Puente Alto is located very close to the foothills of the Andes mountains, containing a variety of soil types including alluvial, stony, and a gravel sub-soil. Just like in Bordeaux, the vines have to struggle for their nutrients, which in turn creates wines with solid structure and surprising complexity.

The first wine we tasted in the series was Casillero de Diablo. The grapes are grown in the Central Valley region of Chile. Concentrated and straightforward, the Casillero de Diablo Cab Sauv 2015 offers red currant and blueberry flavours in a plush body of lively acidity and ripe tannins. There's a slight musky hint on the finish, adding a touch of complexity. This is an ideal wine for newbies to start on Cab Sauv, and a great wine to bring to a Halloween party, if you're punny like me!

Next we tasted the revered Marques de Casa Concha, 2012 vintage. This Cabernet Sauvignon is some of the best value you can find for under $20 CDN, and one of my go-to favourites. The grapes are grown in the DO Puente Alto, and with both a climate and soil similar to Bordeaux, this wine delivers on all fronts! Complex flavours of ripe blueberries, red and black currants surround a body brimming with silky soft tannins, lively acidity and a hint of charcoal and leather on the finish. This beauty is drinking well now, but shows aging potential of another 3-5 years.

Concha y Toro also produces a more rustic, unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon with it's 2008 Terrunyo Las Terrazas. With fruit from one of their oldest vineyards, they crafted a bold wine containing flavours of dried cherries and black currants, alongside a hint of dried tobacco leaf mid-palate. Earthy tannins and mouthwatering acidity create a full body that follows through the long, persistent finish. Newer vintages will hold well in cellar for approximately 5 years, but the 2008 is dangerously close to past prime. Strong meats and hard cheeses will pair best with this gallant gem!

Finally, we come to the pinnacle Cabernet, the esteemed, highly rated 2010 Don Melchor. Wine Spectator ranked it as the #9 wine of the year in 2014, and Concha y Toro earned their spot with a finessed body full of black currant, tomato leaf and a sultry hint of smoke. The silky tannins are well integrated and linger through the smooth finish. Decant for 1-2 hours before enjoying, and pair this with a Ribeye or Filet Mignon!

It is easy to see why Concha y Toro is a benchmark winery for Cabernet Sauvignon in Chile. By using the best quality grapes from their esteemed vineyards, each sub-brand of their wines are consistent in body and flavour, allowing them to produce a house style of quality that will be hard to replicate by others. Enjoy the fruits of Concha y Toro's labour, whether you are new to red wines, a wine geek, or a wine conoisseur-they have a wine for you. Cheers!