My first introduction to Concha y Toro was through my father-in-law many years ago. A man well-known for his dominant personality, incredibly generous nature, and decisive taste, he knew wine well from his Italian family’s wine-making days.
While he’s had many favorite drinks over the years (including Limoncello, Romana Black Sambuca, and Scotch), his everyday wine preference has always been Frontera’s Cabernet-Merlot from the Concha y Toro line.
Even now after contracting Parkinson’s disease several years ago, he still loves this wine and, interestingly enough, it’s one of the few that doesn’t make him choke (a common side effect of the disease) due to its smooth texture, lower tannins, moderate alcohol, and fruity profile.
All of this got me interested in what other wines Concha y Toro produces and I found several great quality-for-value selections as well as some fun and light easy-drinking wines perfect for summer and fall.
The Trivento White Orchid Reserve Torrontes 2016 ($11) is new blend which includes 15% Pinot Grigio along with the dominant Torrontes (85%). Torrontes is Mendoza, Argentina’s signature grape and brings white pepper, floral, and pineapple notes to the blend while Pinot Grigio adds apple and citrus notes. Slightly off-dry in nature, this medium-bodied wine is refreshing with lively acidity.
The next wine, Casillero del Diablo Rosé 2016 ($11), is not only a good wine but also has a good story behind it. In the late 1800’s Concha y Toro’s founder, Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, discovered that many of his finest wines were stolen from his cellar (“casillero” in Spanish). To discourage future theft, Don spread rumors that his cellars were haunted by the devil (“diablo”) hence this wine’s name.
The Casillero del Diablo Rosé is from the Rapel and Maule Valleys in Chile and made predominantly from Syrah with Cinsault and Carménère also in the blend. Salmon-pink in color from two hours of skin contact, this wine tastes of raspberry, blackberry, and peppery spice with electrifying acidity. Perfect for a warm summer evening or early fall barbeque. Incidentally, the original Concha y Toro family estate which houses the “Devil’s Cellar” is Chile’s leading tourist destination!
The next two wines are named for their late-night harvest which helps to preserve flavors by keeping the grapes as cool as possible. Frontera Moonlight White ($6) is from Itata Valley, Chile and made from the fruity Moscato grape. Semi-sweet in nature, light, and fruity with floral, honey and grapey aromas, this is a perfect summer wine.
Frontera After Midnight Red ($6) is from Central Valley, Chile and made from 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah, and 5% Merlot. Aged in both stainless steel (to preserve berry fruit flavors) and oak (for texture and roundness), its crisp acidity and 12% alcohol make it an easy warm-weather red. With the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21, both of these wines would also be perfect for eclipse-themed parties.
In the larger format category (1.5 liters), Frontera also makes Chardonnay and my father-in-law’s favorite, the Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend.
Frontera Chardonnay is bright yellow in color with fresh acidity and citrus, apple, and tropical fruit flavors. Aged in stainless steel, this medium-bodied wine is bright and refreshing.
Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot is an 85%/15% blend (with Merlot being the 15%). Cabernet Sauvignon contributes complexity and blackberry flavors while Merlot adds softer tannins and plum, mint, and chocolate flavors. Stainless steel aging emphasizes fruit flavors and keeps the wine from being too robust in body.
My father-in-law was on to something with his Concha y Toro selection. Concha y Toro is South America’s leading exporter of fine wines and comprises a variety of entry-level to premium brands. Deeply committed to preservation of the natural environment, Concha y Toro is also engaged with many sustainability initiatives including carbon and water footprint reduction as well as biodiversity conservation programs.