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Concha y’ Toro’s Top Wines Show Their Stuff

by Andrew Chalk

How is Chile doing in the pantheon of top-tier wine producers? Based on their selection at a Jewels of the South dinner at Del Frisco’s last week they are second to none in not one, but several categories. 

Concho y Toro presented their top brands in four categories paired with courses from Del Frisco’s chefs, starting with Terrunyo 2022 Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley. I can’t count the number of wine dinners I have attended where the producer’s sauvignon blanc was merely foreplay to their more prestigious offerings. Not here. This wine was a finely calibrated balance of lemon, grapefruit, and lime fruit, herbaceous notes of fresh-cut grass, bold ripping texture on the palate, and bright acid to cut through the fleshy weight of Del Frisco’s yellowtail sashimi bathed in a tart aji amarillo sauce. As a lover of the sauvignon blanc grape as it is cultivated in the cold continental climate of France’s Loire Valley, I am frequently disappointed with the sameness of New World expressions (outside New Zealand). This wine reignited my belief in the category, a direct reflection of Chile’s expansion into cool climate areas, like this wine’s Casablanca Valley. Situated high between the Pacific Ocean and the mighty Andes, this windy region, where you can set your watch by the punctuality of the start of the afternoon breeze, is bringing forth sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and pinot noir of considerable promise. This wine is proof and, at a hair under $40, good value for such an enduring memory.

The Amelia 2022 Chardonnay ‘Quebrada Seca’, Valle del Limari is one of those distinctly New World chardonnays that exudes effusive mango, pineapple, honey and vibrant acid with abundant new French oak exhibited by vanilla aromas and flavors. In fact, only 10% of the oak is new, but the combination of barrel fermentation and 12 months oak aging leaves the signature unmistakable. The notes do not say, but I would guess this wine went through malolactic fermentation, given its softer fruit edge. 

Quebrada Seca means dry creek. The Limari Valley is one of the newer growing regions for vinifera grapes, formerly known for the growing of mission grapes for Pisco. It is 200 miles north of Santiago and is considered near-desert. For Concha y Toro, the Amelia brand expresses the Limari Valley.  

At $65, this chardonnay is priced against better Napa and Sonoma chardonnays.

On to reds and to go with Del Frisco’s best dish of the night, Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin,  Spice-Rubbed and Cola Braised, Smokey Garlic Mushrooms, Charred Scallion Chimichurri, was the Amelia 2022 Pinot Noir ‘Quebrada Seca’, Limari Valley ($50). A very burgundian expression of tomato leaf, forest floor, raspberry, thyme, and rosemary in the nose with those facets melding harmoniously on the palate. Exceptional with the pork and best consumed now.

Finally, prime ribeye was the backdrop for two full-bodied reds. The Marques de Casa Concha 2021 Heritage Red Blend, Puente Alto ($56), a Bordeaux blend. Nose of pyrazines (green pepper), dustiness, tannins of immense power that suddenly melt in the mouth. Uncanny. On the palate coffee and chocolate. 

This wine is three quarters cabernet sauvignon, one quarter cabernet franc. The fruit comes from the El Mariscal Vineyard at an altitude of 600 meters and consists of ungrafted vines. THe wine is aged for 16 months in French oak barrels (35% new).

The high point of the night was the Don Melchor 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto. ($150). This is a sentinel wine for Chile that would sell for twice as much had it a Napa or Bordeaux label. This vintage is marked by a complex nose of mainly red fruit, formidable tannins, and a long, earthy finish. Best aged for a decade or longer. One gets the feeling that its best is yet to come.

Overall, I was struck by how good all of these wines showed. I expected the Don Melchor, a wine I collect, to be impressive, but Concha y Toro impresses across the spectrum. There are few other full-line producers in the world producing as broadly at this level. 



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