Don Melchor Remains the King of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon
There was a time when Chile wasn’t known for producing ultra-premium wines. Budget-friendly offerings were the calling card. While there are now copious examples of great high-end wines coming out of Chile, it was one wine that started the sea change. Concha y Toro produces a diverse and widely scoped range of wines, something for virtually everyone. One of those wines is the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, which was introduced with the 1987 Vintage. In doing so Don Melchor quite literally started a new wave of high end wine production in Chile. Lucky for us in the U.S., many of these ultra-premium wines have now reached our shores. And lucky for me I sat down recently with their winemaker, Enrique Tirado, to sample four vintages of this wine. They went as far back as 1995 and up to 2009.
The Concha y Toro 2009 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from fruit sourced at their Punte Alto vineyard. In addition to cabernet sauvignon (96 percent), a small amount of cabernet franc was also blended in. The fruit was harvested entirely by hand. After fermentation aging was accomplished over 15 months in entirely French oak. Several years of bottle aging followed prior to release. This limited production wine most often sells for right around $80. Dark fruit aromas such as blackberry and current lead the nose of the 2009 Don Melchor along with wisps of dusty mocha. The palate is almost impossibly deep and structured. It’s loaded with deep, dark berry fruit flavors and interspersed with spices. The length is as persistent and impressive as the depth of the palate. It simply goes on and on, reverberating long after you swallow that final sip. This wine is fruity and bold, yet also restrained and elegant. The tannins are firm and the acidity is in perfect balance. This is a lovely and impressive wine today that will only improve with age. In fact, while the others I sampled (1995,2001, 2005) were all delicious and impressive, the 2009 might be remembered as the best of the bunch down the road.
Getting to taste four vintages of a wine side by side is a real window into both the offering itself and the people who shepherd it into existence. Tasting several vintages of a classic like Don Melchor serves as a reminder that sometimes a reputation is well deserved. While vintage, variation, and aging certainly played roles in the wines I tasted, there where commonalities that tied them all together. Depth and length of palate, eminent age-worthiness, and what I call overall wow factor are all part of the package with Don Melchor. If you love cabernet sauvignon and want to taste the most legendary wine from Chile, look no further than the 2009 vintage of Don Melchor from Concha y Toro. This is an absolutely amazing Cabernet Sauvignon that you’ll want to impress your friends, or a date. Go grab it if you can.