31 January 2005

Worst and Best of Concha y Toro

Over a sumptuous dinner to celebrate the Iraqi elections, Paul and I first had a cheap bottle of the 2003 Concha y Toro Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot. This was better than it sounds, but nothing to get excited about. That bottle was almost entirely emptied during the appetizer phase (flatbread and heavily spiced hummus), which was also the "waiting for the standing rib roast to cook" phase.

For the main course (the aforementioned standing rib roast), which also featured a good yet ultimately boring side dish of potato kibbeh stuffed with marinated lentils, I picked up a bottle of the 2001 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, which represents the top of the line from the Concha y Toro vineyards. And this particular vintage got a 95 from Wine Spectator, making it the highest rated Chilean wine ever. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc. The color on this was amazing, and there was a bit of sediment in the last glass from the bottle--two things I wasn't expecting for the relatively young age of the wine. The taste was still a little sharp up front (I'm sure thanks to the cab franc), but was overall smooth and drinkable. I picked up some of the chocolate and black currant flavors.

First off, this is the most I've ever spent on a single bottle of wine--$40. And I'm immensely happy with how it turned out. However, I'm not sure if it's worth that price right at this moment, though the relatively scarce supply is a big factor. If I had a proper cellar, this would be a $100 wine in three years, and a $200 wine in six.

Anyway, if you can find this, it's definitely worth a try, and if you can afford two bottles and have the proper storage facilitites, stick one in the back for a few years. But when you want a good Chilean wine for a dinner, go for the Concha y Toro Marques line, and stick to the cab sav.

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