Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Report from: Concha Y Toro Tasting – September 10, 2007

No winery says Chile to me like Concha Y Toro … their Casillero del Diablo has found a spot on my wine rack year after year, and I have been buying their “Trio” series of wines since its introduction into the Ontario market; in fact, after this tasting, I went home and pulled my 2002’s off the shelf to drink them (more on that later). So when Concha Y Toro invited a few of us for a sampling of the new line-up of Trio and Terrunyo wines I jumped at the opportunity.

The tasting was held at a marvelous little restaurant on Yonge Street, just north of Lawrence, called, appropriately enough, Trio – a little Italian joint that makes some awesome food. I’m also told their thin crust pizza is to die for, and if their Osso Bucco, flank steak, calamari and other delights sampled this afternoon were any indication I’ll be back to try that pizza.

But enough about the food, let’s talk about the wine here. Some years ago Casillero del Diablo (a reserve wine) was the top end wine in the Concha Y Toro line up – now it has been usurped by Trio (a reserve blend), Marques de Casa Concha (a single vineyard reserve) and Terrunyo (a single block from a single vineyard reserve). The 7 wines tasted this afternoon were all wonderful and it’s tough to single out just one as being the wine to buy. The good news/bad news about the Terrunyo Sauvignon Blanc is that it will not be available in this market (Ontario); while it truly is delicious with beautiful fruit and acidity and would retail for between $25-$30 and the LCBO doesn’t seem to want to carry a Savvy B. at that prince point. Therefore I won’t waste the space reviewing it, though I guess I already did (if you find a bottle elsewhere and love good Sauv. Blanc treat yourself to a bottle). The other Sauvignon Blanc I tried this afternoon was the Casillero del Diablo 2007 offering ($10.95 - #578641) – green apple and lime on the nose, grapefruit in the mouth with a peach-mango finish.

The rest of the tasting focused on the reds: Trio 2006 Merlot (a blend of 65% Merlot, 20% Carmenere and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 11 months in oak); Trio 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (70% Cab Sauv and 15% each of Shiraz and Cab Franc also aged 11 months in wood); and the 2005 Terrunyo line – Carmenere, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Both Trios are wonderful blends with the Merlot ($14.95 - #433920) showing signs of plums, cherries, chocolate and eucalyptus with a dollop of violets on the nose … in the mouth its lots of cherries, chocolate and black fruit … a side-by-side tasting of the 2004 and 2006 vintages showed that the wine has good aging potential – and would continue to improve over the next few years. The Cabernet Sauvignon ($14.75 - #433912) was a real delight with black cherries, plum, blackberries and menthol on the nose; cassis, black cherry, chocolate and dry tannins on the palate, but not so drying as to turn the mouth arid. This one too could also stand a few years of bottle aging. A few nights later I opened my own 2002 Trio Cabernet Sauvignon and was struck by how intense the chocolate and cherries had become, and how smooth and soft the mouthfeel was – stunning 5 years later. My disappointment came when I opened my bottle of 2002 Merlot which turned out to be corked with its telltale wet newspaper and damp basement smells … Concha Y Toro has rectified that problem by putting the Trio line under plastic “Noma” cork (best described to me as looking like “sponge wrapped in Mac-Tac”).

The Terrunyo line’ names comes from a bastardization of the Spanish word for Terroir … It is the best of the best of Concha wines “Ultra Premium Quality” – and the innovative packaging is just one example of why. Terrunyo wines are deemed to be the best fruit, from the best block from the best vineyard. The picture on the front label shows the vineyard with a little red arrow pointing out the particular block; on the back label a graph shows elevation of the block within the vineyard. Each wine retails for $29.95 and all are well worth it; they really are a sophisticated and complex wine showing off the specific nuances of each individual variety.

The 2005 Carmenere comes from Block 27 of the Peumo Vineyard in the Rapel Valley and spent 18 months in French oak. It’s cherry, violet and blackberry nose was only overshadowed by the incredibly smooth red fruit, blackberry, cassis, cherry and hint of mint flavours in the mouth.

The 2005 Syrah spent 14 months in French wood and contains a dollop of Cab Sauv for structure (about 10%). The wine smells of white pepper, black fruit, tobacco and mocha and those were once again overshadowed by the tastes: lush red fruit, herbs and cherries with a touch of pepper … it is a very limited production wine, but Ontario should see 60% of it (about 150 cases).

Finally, the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was housed in French oak for 17 months and contains 5% Cabernet Franc. Black fruit, cassis and cocoa on the nose; with the same in the mouth along with some tannin bite.

These three wines (Terrunyo) should see Vintages shelves sometime between April and November 2008 – so keep your eyes on the catalogue – they’re well worth the investment especially the Carmenere and Syrah.

The Trio wines are available right now.

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