Monday, September 22, 2014

The special touch of Don Melchor

Recently I had the most amazing opportunity to taste through the seven parcels that exist in Don Melchor's esteemed Puente Alto vineyard in Chile's Central Valley Region in upper Maipo Valley.  The guest of honor was Enrique Tirado, sole winemaker and technical director for Concha y Toro.  Enrique, a reserved yet sincere figure, spoke with us regarding the winery, its terrior and the distinctions of the seven parcels that eventually will become the blend for the 2013 vintage, release date of Fall 2016.  Shortly thereafter, he blended the parcels and we tasted the special blend that was equally approachable as the 2010 vintage that will be released next month.

The beauty of this event was the unique experience of tasting each parcel individually, followed by its final 2013 vintage blend.  The varietals spoke differently to me as a result. I had gotten to know them first as a single player, then met them together as a team.  It was truly incredible.

Seven parcels of 2013 vintage.

Parcel 1 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  22%

This had an oxidized nose upfront that was quickly muted with a bowl of cranberries/red currants, bell pepper, bitter chocolate and nutmeg.  I liked the mouth feel the most -- it lingered for a while.

Parcel 2 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  4%

Interesting nose of potpourri, black currants, tomato leaf, clove, stony and dark chocolate pieces.  Tart fruit with a menthol finish.  It opened up after sitting in its glass, an imperative deed if consumed on its own.

Parcel 3 - Cabernet Franc (25 year old vines):  13%

Us wine snobs will contest that Cabernet Franc doesn't get as much attention as it so deserves.  This is quite true with this parcel.  The structure resembled one of a black tea's tannin profile.  The black berries, brown spice and clay participants are complementary. This is a wine I'd drink on its own with some age on it.

Parcel 4 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  17%

Mint, pine tree, stony and baking spice notes cascaded along the nose and palate. However, dried roses were the surprise in the wine for me.  The structure has potential, and in a very good way.

Parcel 5 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  20%

I fell in love with the sweet nose of ripe black berries, raspberries and currants - a wine that held a lot of confidence in every element.  Wet stones and its constant overturning of notes won me over.

Parcel 6 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  17%

Deep and full wine carrying a bit of each previous wine's characteristics, definitely needs to breathe in its glass.

Parcel 7 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  7%

As if Merlot had bitten its skin, this wine was jammy and inviting.  Almost euphoric, as my notes read.  Wow.  Wish I had a glass of it now.

Blend of 2013 parcels, to be released 2016

The wine was an elegant example of each child's strong features.  The balance of the parcels blended drank beautifully.  I could only imagine its ability to please upon its release in two years.  I must make a note to purchase its offering and compare my notes.

Additional notes:

The Don Melchor wines are aged in French oak barrels (mostly new) for 12-15 mos, with an additional one year in the bottle.  The Puente Alto vineyard sits at the foot of the Andes Mountains, on the northern side of the Maipo river basin and 2100 feet (650 meters) above sea level.  There are 127 hectares in total, in addition, Enrique grows Petit Verdot, planted in 2008 and Merlot, planted in 2006.  His favorite vintages of Don Melchor are 2010, 2008 and 2001.  He has a twin brother who produces Sauvignon Blanc and red blends under his own private label.  Don Melchor means Sir Mentor, the name referencing the namesake who began the winery in 1883, Concha y Toro.

In conclusion, I really like Chilean Cabernets.  For someone who doesn't drink red often, I was surprised that I had repeated after thoughts about wanting to drink Cabernet Sauvignon for several nights.  Only problem was:  I wanted the 2008 Don Melchor and I didn't have a bottle to open.

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