I love the fall and winter for one reason and one reason only….BOLD RED WINES. It is the ONLY reason I can think of to enjoy cold, blustery, frozen weather. A glass of that red, liquid jewel in my glass as I don enough clothing to overwhelm an eskimo and huddle next to the fireplace, pretending I’m off in some tropical locale.
Fortunately for me, Chile provides me with that exotic escape in the form of the Casillero del Diablo winery. It’s the ‘little mischievous brother’ winery owned by Concha y Toro, the powerhouse winery that puts out the top rated Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, but at a fraction of the price. This bottle ran me a whopping $9…how could I pass it up?
2007 was considered a historic year for the Carmenere grape, and quite frankly, I was feeling rather historic myself…or perhaps the proper word was ancient…the kids have been taking a toll on me lately, so I could’t wait to open up the bottle and sip my first ‘history lesson.’
For those of you who have no clue what Carmenere is, think of it as a grape that falls somewhere between a nice, silky Merlot and a big, bad Cabernet Sauvignon. All the rich flavor, but smoother tannins so you don’t get the dry mouth effect, but you also don’t have the thin ‘grape juice’ effect you sometimes get with the other two grapes. It was one of the original six grapes of Bordeaux, but the French pretty much chucked it, and, like the celebrated pawn stars of reality tv, the Chileans took it and turned it into treasure, making it the country’s rock star wine grape.
Okay, enough history, let’s taste it.
In the glass, this ‘devil’ is as dark and brooding as you’d expect. Dark, crimson red, looking almost black, much like the color of a Syrah/Shiraz.
On the nose, you get a whole care package of currants, dark plum, chocolate, spice, cigars, and bell pepper.
Knowing how much I love both Casillero del Diablo and Concha y Toro wines, I rushed in for the taste…
…I should have sauntered in slowly.
I was immediately overpowered by the bell peppers to the point where I nearly couldn’t finish the glass.
Now, before jumping to the conclusion that this was a bad wine, I had to remind myself that I gave the opened bottle NO time whatsoever to breathe. I’m an impatient, impetuous woman at times. I have needs, dammit, and I needed that glass of wine STAT. I decided maybe I just needed to give it a little time to adjust to its new home. After all, who wants to rush the charms of a Latin lover, right? So I decanted it and counted the hours until the next day.
And OH what a difference a day made!
Instead of the bell pepper, my tastebuds were greeted with flavors of plum, blackberry, and blueberry…maybe even a hit of cranberry on the initial sip. As it glided across my tongue, dark chocolate and spice took over. The finish serenaded me with hints of coffee, toffee, slivers of vanilla, and that smoky goodness of toasted American Oak.
Yes, that is what I was dreaming of…and it was most DEFINITELY worth the wait.
Casillero del Diablo/Concha y Toro never fails to titillate and seduce my palate. It’s why it’s been in my favorites list for so long.
All of the complexities, all of that amazing goodness, all in a bottle price around $10.
This 2007 Carmenere demands to be paired with steak and mushroom dishes, perhaps serve it with prime rib at your holiday gatherings. It can subdue it like a matador at a bullfight. Keep it handy always for those ‘fireplace’ kind of nights. At this price, you’ll wish winter would never end.