The bottle came wrapped in tissue paper. A little package to unwrap, adding to the anticipation of finally tasting the wine. Pete pulled the cork and we gave it a quick sniff. We looked at each other and smiled. He poured a small glass for us to taste before pouring the remainder of the bottle into a decanter. It would be an hour before our friends arrived for dinner.
We swirled, and sniffed. Lovely aromas wafted from the glass. A quick sip demonstrated ample fruit, earth, black tea and smooth tannins. “This is really nice,” Pete observed. We busied ourselves with final dinner preparations. It would be almost two hours before we turned our attention back to the 2011 Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Vineyard in the decanter.
When we received the 2011 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon as a tasting sample through Creative Palate Communications, we knew immediately we wanted to prepare a meal to accompany the wine and that we wanted to share both with friends. We thought about possible pairings with Cabernet Sauvignon and decided on a simple menu of beef tenderloin, oven-roasted potatoes and carrots — to keep the focus on the wine.
Concha y Toro and Puente Alto: The Winery and a Vineyard
Don Melchor Concha y Toro founded Viña Concha y Toro in 1883. He brought grapevines from Bordeaux to plant his vineyards at Pirque in the Maipo Valley. At the time, Chilean viticulturists looked to France, then the center of the wine world, for winemaking advice as well as modern winemaking equipment.
Fast forward to 1986. That’s when the idea to produce a world-class Chilean Cabernet originated and Concha y Toro naturally looked to France once again. An original consultation with famed enologist Professor Émile Peynaud resulted in an ongoing consulting relationship between Peynaud’s successor Jacques Boissenot and Concha y Toro. The Boissenot family continues to consult on Don Melchor today. The 2011 vintage of the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Vineyard marks the wine’s 25th anniversary.
The story of Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon centers on the 127-acre Puente Alto Vineyard. Puente Alto is situated at the foot of the Andes near Santiago, Chile in the Alto Maipo Valley. The 30 year-old vineyard sits at 650 meters above sea level. Its situation at the foot of the mountains means cool breezes that sweep down over the vineyard delay budding, flowering and the eventual ripening of the Cabernet vineyard. There is a significant shift in temperature from day to night during the growing season. Vineyard soil is alluvial with significant amounts of gravel and stones along with clay, all of which result in lower yields and concentrated flavors. In short, this is prime Cabernet Sauvignon territory in Chile.
The Wine and Food Pairing
2011 Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Vineyard — medium ruby in the glass with generous aromas of tobacco, earth and red fruit. Ripe raspberry flavors combine with tobacco, hints of smoke, leather, black tea and dry earth. Over time subtle notes of herbs and asphalt join the flavors. Tannins are smooth and well integrated into the wine. The finish is very long with both fruit and tannins. ABV 14.5% SRP $125.
You will immediately recognize the aromas and flavors of this wine as Cabernet Sauvignon from a cooler climate – complex red fruit flavors along with herbal notes are the major clues. Developing leather and tobacco flavors are also present that I associate with bottle aging. It is a very well balanced and very complex wine with no noticeable heat from alcohol.
The 2011 growing season was relatively cool and harvest was delayed to allow for full fruit flavors to develop. 1% Cabernet Franc is blended with the Cabernet Sauvignon and the wine was aged 15 months in French oak barrels – 70% new, 30% second use.
The elegant flavors of the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon paired beautifully with the juicy, beef tenderloin and mushroom gravy. The Yukon gold potatoes had been simply roasted in the oven with olive oil and a light seasoning of salt, pepper and thyme. The spiced butter-glazed carrots were prepared from a Dorie Greenspan recipe that includes shallots, ginger, garlic, cardamom seeds and chicken broth. We succeeded in preparing a delicious, flavorful meal that matched perfectly with the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon.
Concha y Toro is Chile’s #1 wine producer and exporter, producing 35% of Chilean wine exports in 2014. With vineyards in Chile, Argentina and the United States, it has the largest vineyard holdings of any winery worldwide and is the largest winery worldwide by sales volume. Impressive statistics, but even more impressive is the quality of the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon. Clearly the quality of this wine has not been compromised by the growth of the company.
Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Vineyard is absolutely a special occasion wine, perfect for a celebration with family or friends who truly appreciate well-made Cabernet Sauvignon. We are very happy to have had the opportunity to sample this wine and share it with our friends. Thank you to Concha y Toro and Creative Palate Communications for the delicious opportunity.