Thursday, November 8, 2012

Report from … Concha y Toro Tasting with Marcelo Papa – September 24, 2012

I have met Marcelo Papa on a number of occasions and each time he talks just as passionately and just as excitedly about the wines he makes as if it were his first time speaking about them … though I am sure it’s about the hundredth just that week alone.

Today I tasted through a number of Concha wines including the Casillero del Diablo wines, Marques wines and some Don Melchor’s, plus a bottle or two brought in especially for the tasting … at this tasting it was the Marques wines that truly impressed – read on McDuff …
New look for the Casillero label

Casillero del Diablo (top three) …

Cassillero Merlot
2011 Merlot ($12.95 - #427088)
Pure Chilean Merlot, lots of blackberry, blueberry and cassis with a touch of spice.  Nice full flavoured finish – smooth and ultimately drinkable. (****)

2011 Malbec ($12.95 - #94060)
Malbec is not the grape you think of Chile for, but they seem to have found the magic formula for yet another grape variety not their own.  Hint of leather, blackberry and cassis on the nose with a palate full of black cherry, raspberry and all with a peppery finish.  (****)

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.95 - #278416)
Chocolate and cherry whip the nose into a frenzy, then comes the palate: slightly peppered with cassis and cocoa … good Cab for every occasion, all at a great price. (****)

The Line Up of Wines for the Day

Structured tasting …

The main part of the tasting dealt with all the different valleys in which y Toro is making their wines and the difference their locales make in the glass.  According to Marcello, Limari is north, so it’s great for Pinot and Chardonnay; Leyda is mid-coastal, only 8 miles from the ocean where Cabernet and Syrah seem to thrive.  Maipo is inland, so the Syrah grows really well there; Rapel is more southerly, so it gets to grow the likes of Carmenere and Merlot.

The Marques Wines of Choice (top three) …

Awesome Sauv Blanc is N/A
It’s not surprising that you can’t find some of the most amazing wines at the LCBO and the Marques de Casa Concha 2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($18.95) could easily be described as amazing.  The fruit for this wine is sourced from one of the oldest blocks of Sauvignon Blanc vines in the Leyda Valley (planted in 1999).  Herbal with pink and yellow grapefruit notes (pulp and pith) with sweet grass, bracing acidity and a long lovely finish. (****+)

Merlot seems to have long been a staple for Chile (I know it was the first grape from Chile I tried) so it’s no wonder they’re still cranking them out with great success.  The Marques de Casa Concha 2010 Merlot ($19.95 - #939827) has a nose as complex (and delicious) as the palate: plum, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and chocolate play in the olfactories while in the mouth big dark fruit flavours, ripe silky tannins with hints of blueberry skin dance across the tongue … look for a juicy mid-palate that leads to a chocolate based finish. (****+)

But this Pinot more than makes up for it
And now for something completely different, the Marques des Casa Concha 2011 Pinot Noir ($19.95 - #301424, December 8, 2012 Vintages release) is something to behold.  14 months in French oak of which 20% is new.  This wine is made from young-ish vines, planted in 2006, in the Limari Valley, but already shows a real depth of character.  The nose is full of lovely red fruit, namely raspberry and cranberry with a real freshness – think California with better acidity.  The palate is also full fruited with flavor: black cherry, raspberry, hints of vanilla and good minerality to boot … it’s one heck of a Pinot from a place you don’t expect great Pinot, Chile (but what am I saying, Chile can make anything) – scary to see what they will produce with much older vines of this grape.  With it’s toned down alcohol (13.7%) Chile – and more specifically Concha y Toro and Marcelo - may have found yet another grape they can do well – really well. (**** ½)

Special Wines …

The future looks bright
Today we tried 2 kinds of special wines.  The second were a pair of the Concha y Toro top tier wines: Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon ($79.95) one form 2007 the other from 2008 – both were very nice – but this is not the part of the tasting that made me stand up and take notice, an $80 bottle of wine should age nicely.  But what about a $20 bottle of Marques?  The first vintage of the label was in 1974 and it started slowly with limited production and today they are pumping out 70,000 cases of high quality wine at a good price.  The tasting of Marques Cabernet Sauvignon included a lineup of wines from 2010, 2009 and 2001.  According to Marcelo Papa the 2010 is “the best that I have made in my tenure making Marques” – and he’s not just whistling Dixie, this is a beauty that has everything you’d want in a Chilean Cabernet: blackberry, chocolate, raspberry, pepper, coffee and mocha notes on the nose; while the palate is full of dark and delicious fruit with good spice and firm tannins (****+).  Ageing potential is 10 years-plus and it is interesting to note that this wine is made from pre-phylloxera vines, and that applies to all vintages of this wine.

and so does the past
And speaking of ageing potential, the 2001 Marques Cabernet was an awesome display of age-ability.  Nose of dried cherry, hints of raisin with a taste that still shows freshness of fruit even through its dried nature; there’s even some leathery-tarry notes with elements of blackberry running down the seam … but there was also a juiciness that remained in the wine and even more exciting, chocolate bits.  This wine was loaded with flavor and for $20 was/is an absolute steal … think of that next time you’re out and about and look for something to impress yourself with in 10+ years.

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