Story and photo by Manos Angelakis
Bottle photographs courtesy Viña Concha y Toro S. A.
Extremely Exceptional Wines from Concha y Toro
Almaviva, Don Melchor, Eolo
Chile has a long history of creating exceptional wines from international grape varieties that find the country’s valleys by the Pacific Ocean a very suitable terroir to create world class vintages. The knowledge, talent and expertise of many top Chilean winemakers is such that the results of their labors, the iconic wines of Chile, secure top placement in Top 50 Wines lists around the world. And its not only on the Pacific side of the Andes that these wonderful wines are created. On the Atlantic side, in Argentina’s Mendoza region, iconic wines are also created by talented winemakers employed by well-known companies.
Almaviva: A joint venture between Concha y Toro and Baron Philippe de Rothchild has resulted in the creation of Viña Almaviva. The Puente Alto terroir in Chile’s Maipo Valley, has the appropriate conditions for grapes of incredible quality to grow in an estate supervised by talented agronomists and the top Chilean winemaker, Enrique Tirado.
Made from a blend of classic Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère and Cabernet Franc) in which Cabernet Sauvignon predominates, Almaviva is an exceptionally elegant and complex wine. It is made and bottled at the estate own winery and vineyards, by a technical team dedicated exclusively to producing only this single wine.
The best vintage currently available in the US market is 2009.
2010, 2011 and 2012 are, in my opinion, just as good, but the 2009 has by now had more time in bottle to mellow. The wine exhibits an expressive bouquet of wood smoke, pencil lead, incense, cedar, black plums, blackcurrant, and blackberry. Elegantly styled and impeccably balanced, any of the above mentioned vintages will evolve for several more years and drink well through 2030 at least.
Sales of Almaviva are limited and primarily aimed at the top markets of Europe and Asia through the Bordeaux Negociant’s exclusive worldwide network.
Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon: Another result of Enrique Tirado’s winemaking expertise that continuously garners kudos and awards worldwide is Don Melchor, named after Don Melchor Concha y Toro, the preeminent Chilean politician that founded the vineyards and wineries of the company.
The 25th anniversary of this exceptional wine was celebrated with the release of the 2011 vintage. It is meticulously created at the Puente Alto vineyard in Maipo Valley. Normally, the predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon wine is blended with 3% Cabernet Franc, but that small percentage changes based on each year’s harvest; the wine is aged in French oak barriques for 15 months.
The vineyard is managed row by row to achieve the perfect potential for each vine. 2011 was a rather cold year that resulted in a later harvest than usual. At harvest, the grapes showed fresh fruit full of aromas and flavors. The annual rainfall for the year was lower than normal, but the Andes provided enough water for judicious irrigation. The 2011 vintage of the wine I received is a blend of 99% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc, aged for 15 months in French oak, 70% new and 30% second use. It is refined and elegant, with silky tannins and an intense ruby-red color. A surprising minerality dominates the layers of cassis, black cherry and damson plum flavors; hints of spice, tobacco and hoisin sauce also appear on the palate. The nose of the long, lush finish is filled with notes of chocolate, eucalyptus, pencil shavings and herbs. Purchase and cellar; it has a possible long life of 10 to 15 years ahead.
Eolo: Concha y Toro purchased in the mid-1990s almost 3,200 acres in the Mendoza region of Argentina to develop a winery producing fine quality wines from that country. The winery was named Trivento (three winds) a reference to an important climactic feature of the region: three winds that sweep through Mendoza at different times of the year.
The 2012 Eolo sample I received is a super-premium reserve wine, purple tinted with red highlights; 100% Malbec made from old vines. Victoria Prandina, the winemaker at the estate, makes the Eolo from a 9-acre plot of vines planted in 1912. It is elegant and appealing and stands out from the gallons of indifferent Malbecs from Argentina that currently inundate the US market; floral aromas and smoke, with cedar and black fruit plus hints of graphite on the nose and lush black plums, pepper and blackberry flavor. At present, it is too young and hard; the tannins need more bottle aging to integrate with the fruit. Give it 4 to 6 more years of cellaring and this will be an exceedingly attractive wine to pair with grilled prime beef, venison and other game.
I had a great time tasting these incredible wines. I consider myself a lucky person!
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