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The Cellar: The Making of a World Class Wine

Friday, July 11, 2014


Don Melchor

Most of you are probably familiar with the wines of the Chilean producer Concha y Toro. This famous Estate dates back to 1883 when Don Melchor Concha y Toro and his wife Emiliana Subercaseaux, who had amassed a fortune mining in northern Chile, planted their first vines which they had brought with them from Bordeaux, France. The first Concha y Toro vines were planted in Pirque, a Maipo Valley village situated at the foot of the Andes Mountains just 17 miles from Santiago.

Over the years Concha y Toro has become the largest wine company in all of Latin America producing more than 30 million cases annually – many of which are consistently good, readily available and very reasonably priced. In the other end of the spectrum Concha y Toro also makes a series of premium wines among them a $125 single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which is named after the company’s founder.

Puente Alto vineyard

The Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon is all about expressing a specific terroir − the Puente Alto vineyard. Over the years the 315 acre vineyard has been divided into 7 smaller parcels (6 that grow Cabernet Sauvignon and 1 that grown Cabernet Franc) each of which are vinified separately. It is the responsibility of Enrique Tirado, head winemaker since 1997, to taste and blend the different wines (parcels) together and make the best possible Don Melchor – not an easy task as I would soon find out for myself.

Enrique Tirado

I recently attended a Don Melchor tasting. At the event Enrique had brought with him each of the wines made from the 7 different parcels. It was amazing to taste the different expressions this one vineyard offered – one parcel produced a soft Cabernet Sauvignon with ripe, lush fruit while another was more spicy and higher in alcohol. A third showed amazing tannic structure, while a fourth was slightly green and herbaceous. Fascinating!

The tasting also featured the newest release - the 24th vintage. The 2010 Don Melchor is technically a blend as it has 3% Cabernet Franc in it. Aged for 15 months in French oak barrels (of which 76% were new) this wine is absolutely stunning: soft and elegant with dense and concentrated bright fruit and tannins that will carry this wine for decades.

Any wine merchant that carries Concha y Toro should be able to get you the Don Melchor should you be interested in splurging. If not, try any of the many wines offered by Concha y Toro. I am rarely disappointed with the QPR (Quality-Price Ratio). If you like this nerdy wine stuff you could also consider signing up for a wine tasting at the Providence Wine Academy hosted by yours truly. The first couple of tastings of our 4th season has just been posted. Don’t miss out!


Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected]rovidenceWineAcademy.com with any wine-related question or learn about wine in person by signing up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.


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