It’s not only a lot of fun but also a great learning experience when you get to sit down and talk with a winemaker (without his boss around). I had the pleasure of doing just that at a small, private tasting sponsored by Snooth, an online wine database and portal for consumers to find and purchase wine online.
The winemaker, Concha Y Toro’s Marcelo Papa, joined the company about 12 years ago with degrees in agriculture and winemaking, and a ton of experience at Viñedos Emiliana, a pioneer in organic winemaking in Chile (see my post here) and five years with that behemoth of the US wine industry Kendall-Jackson. He worked two harvests each year, one in California and the other at K-J’s Viña Calina in Chile, and took lessons learned in each place to the other.
Concha is part of a real renaissance in Chilean winemaking and produces out about a quarter of all wine from Chile. Rather than either low-end budget wines or ultra-premium luxury labels, Concha focuses on high quality at the midprice range, and it shows.
Initially Marcelo took over the best-selling line of Casillero del Diablo wines, and a year later added the prestige Marqués de Casa Concha label to his portfolio. Under Papa’s direction, Concha’s wines began earning industry accolades starting in 2002, on his home turf in the Chilean Wine Guide, and also in some top US industry pubs including Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines. But as you know, I’m a lot less concerned with what the wine wags write in the wine rags than with authenticity, taste and craftsmanship.
Under Papa, Concha has recently created a new range of wines called Maycas del Limarí, from, appropriately enough, the Limarí wine region 250 miles north of Santiago. Sourcing fruit from five vineyards and more than 1000 acres, this region is much cooler, semi-arid and has great potential for white varieties including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Here are the wines I tasted and my favorites:
- Maycas del Limari Sauvignon Blanc (2008) – Favorite
- Maycas del Limari Chardonnay (2007) – Favorite
- Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay (2007)
- Maycas del Limari Cabernet Sauvignon (2005) – Favorite
- Maycas del Limari Syrah (2006)
- Debut vintage: Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere (2007) – Favorite and just outstanding
- Marques de Casa Concha Merlot (2006)
- Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet (2007)
- Marques de Casa Concha Syrah (2007)
- Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada (2007) – Favorite