Chile is among the new world’s preeminent wine regions. Many wine consumers recognize Chile as a great source of value with wines in the $10-29 range tasting way above their price point. Furthermore, Wines of Chile has marketed Carmenere successfully to the point it is now not only a well-recognized grape but also associated with Chile. Furthermore, I think it is fair to say there are many wine consumers who recognize Chile also produces high quality Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and even some Pinot Noir and sparkling wines. However, I think many fail to consider Chile when veering beyond the $20ish range when looking for a luxury wine. That, my friends, is a mistake.
In an article I wrote for Snooth in March titled, “This Premium Cabernet Category Should be on Your Radar,” I explained Chile’s winemaking history, its geography and unique terroir, and its top quality producers in an effort to aid in understanding that when thinking about high quality Cabernet Sauvignon purchases, Napa Valley and Bordeaux are not the only regions to consider. I even provided six stunning wines to put you on the right track. As the year comes to a close I am here to remind you Do Not Forget Chile when seeking fine wine.
Don Melchor is the iconic flagship wine of Concha Y Toro. It has been Wine Spectator Top 100 wine eight times. The wine was first produced in 1987, with the intent of standing alongside the world’s top Bordeaux in quality and favorability. It has been a success ever since. Don Melchon is crafted from grapes grown in Chile’s Puente Alto vineyard in the Maipo Valley. This area has a Mediterranean climate similar to Napa Valley, and is considered the Paulliac of Chile. The best quality Bordeaux style wines come from Puente Alto.
The 2014 Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Chile ($125) is crafted of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc. It is a deep garnet with ruby hues in the glass. Aromas include fresh red cherry, blackberry, plum, cranberry, currants, dried roses and savory herbs, graphite, dusty cocoa, sweet tobacco, and trailing vanilla. This wine offers tension on the palate in both the juxtaposition of fruit and earth, as well as its youthfulness with depth of complexity. It wraps the palate in rich layers of flavors and a velvet mouth-feel. It is beautifully structured and balanced with a firm vein of minerality running through it. This is the third vintage in a row I have had of Don Melchor and this one is stunning. Buy now, drink in 10 years and thank me in 2027. I am not a score watcher but this wine has received a 98 from James Suckling, 96 Wine Spectator, and 94 Robert Parker.
In 2004, Alexander Vik, a Norwegian entrepreneur, sought to establish a world-class vineyard to produce unique wines. After hiring a top-notch team to find the best possible terroir in South America, Vik Vineyards was born in the Millahue Valley. Vik is designed to embody the perfect fusion between man, experience, land, climate, and advanced technology. Vik combines these elements through embracing holism. “Our holistic wine is the result of the magnificent dynamic terroir together with viticultural and vinicultural best practices, excellence in environmental stewardship, development of human and social capital as well as architecture and the arts.” In less than 10 years Vik is recognized as producing some of Chile’s best wines.
I highlighted the 2011 Vik wine in the Snooth article. Today, I bring you the 2011 Vik La Piu Belle Mallahue Valley Chile ($75), Vik winery’s latest offering. One look at the label you can see this is no ordinary wine. The label is the surrealist work of artist Gonzalo Cinefuegos. It is an “ephemeral depiction of a woman and a natural expression of the Vik experience, emphasizing their philosophy that the wine is an expression of art.” The wine is crafted predominately of Cabernet Sauvignon, with support by Carmenere, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. The wine is delicate and focused; notes of blackberry, black cherry, bramble berry, and black raspberry mingle with baking spice, fresh tobacco leaves, dried floral and savory herbs, and a hint of smoke. This full-body wine is beautifully lush yet integrated, balanced and well-structured. It delivers on every level for a gorgeous wine to be consumed now, but with great age-ability.
Both of these wines are stars and stand with any and all of the world’s first class wines. So the next time you are seeking to drink or buy a high quality Cabernet Sauvignon wine, think Chile. Furthermore, during this holiday season do not forget these wines make great gifts and are perfect to pair with your holiday meals.