A very intimate tasting adventure, a delight for your senses. This past October first at Piperade restaurant in San Francisco, Enrique Tirado, winemaker for Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon; from Concha y Toro Winery partook four vintages of this well crafted quality wine from Chile.
The lunch tasting event started with a brief presentation on the history of The Concha y Toro winery by Italo Jofre. Concha y Toro started in 1883 when local politician and businessman Don Melchor Concha y Toro brought vitis vinifera grapevines from the Bordeaux region to plant at Pirque in the Maipo Valley. He also contracted renown French enologist Monsieur Labouchere to craft his wines.
Over 130 years, Concha y Toro had grown to be Chile’s first global wine brand. After acquiring the Puente Alto vineyard in the 1960s, Concha y Toro management lead by chairman Eduardo Guilisasti Tagle realized the great potential of this property to produce extraordinary wines. With the help of French winemaking expert Emile Peynaud and his partner Jacques Boissenot, the new project took shape with the first release of Don Melchor wine in 1987.
Winemaker Enrique Tirado is been the winemaker for the Don Melchor project since 1997, after a successful career with Concha y Toro since 1993. "For me, Don Melchor is an ongoing quest to get the truest possible expression from every plant in the vineyard to attain beauty in the equilibrium from each Puente Alto terroir harvest, It's my true obsession." Tirado shared with us.
Piperade offered and amazing three course lunch menu with 3 choices each. It was great to taste all four vintages, 1989, 1993, 2006 and 2009 of Don Melchor wine with the appetizer and entrée selections.
- Don Melchor 1989: (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) This wine shows ripe red fruit, red currants, toasty oak and sweet vanilla aromas with hints of leather and eucalyptus. On the palate, this wine offers a silky texture, proof of beautiful aging, with dark cherry, plum, toffee and sweet herbs notes finishing with elegant tannins. This beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon was a great companion for the calamari "a la plancha" with fennel, olives, capers and lemon. The nice touch of heat in the sauce of the calamari was a great marriage with the sweet herbal notes and mellow tannins on the wine. The roasted rack of lamb, merguez (sausage), fennel, breadcrumb, pecan, cumin and date relish paired very well with the wine. The flavors on the dish brought the best wine qualities while the aromas and flavors of the wine enhanced the food. Suggested retail price $94.
- Don Melchor 1993: (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) Beautiful aromas of cherries, ripe plum, baking spices and cocoa powder. On the palate, playful tannins leads to complex flavors of red fruit, dark ripe fruit, mint and dark chocolate notes. This is an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon that shows great balance of fruit, acid and tannins after 20 years of graceful aging. The wine was very enjoyable with the calamari appetizer but lost a bit of its beautiful flavors against the bold lamb roast. Suggested retail price $100.
- Don Melchor 2006: (96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc) Expressive aromas of red berries, cherries, cranberry and dark berries up-front with notes of dry herbs and tobacco. Well crafted Cabernet Sauvignon with complex aroma and flavors, great balance and robust tannins. In the mouth, this wine express flavors of dark berries, plum, tart red fruit with hints of tobacco, coffee beans and eucalyptus. This well structured wine is capable of aging nicely. This particular vintage takes over the flavors of the calamari, but it's a perfect pairing for the roasted rack of lamb, intensifying its taste. The lamb dish also elevates the complexity of the wine. Suggested retail price $80.
- Don Melchor 2009: (96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc) This vigorous red wine shows ripe dark fruit, baking spices, cocoa powder and dark currants aromas with hints of tobacco, red flowers and oak. This well balanced Cabernet shows clean flavors of blackberry, plum, cinnamon, nutmeg, toasted hazelnuts with hints of fresh mint and dark chocolate. Beautiful fruit forward long finish with soft and persistent tannins. The flavors of the wine clashed with the calamari first, but soon brought out the spiciness of the sauce. This Cabernet emphasized the fennel flavor on the lamb roast dish. Both the wine and the lamb roast complemented each other nicely. Suggested retail price $125.