A top producer of Carmenère, the perfect wine match here, is Chile's Concha y Toro. When Don Melchor founded the winery in 1883 by bringing grapevines from Bordeaux to Chile's Maipo Valley, his biggest fear was that his workers would steal his bottles. His solution? To start a rumor that the devil lurked in the cellar, a legend that not only kept his stash safe, but inspired the name of one of Concha y Toro's most popular Carmenères: Casillero del Diablo. More than a century later, Concha y Toro's are the best-selling Chilean bottles in the United States. And as the prices of other Chilean wines creep upward, Concha y Toro still offers incredible quality and variety--at a devilishly low price.
Perfect Wine Match
The Carmenère grape has a strange history in Chile, where until recently growers mistook it for a late-ripening Merlot. This largely forgotten variety from Bordeaux was transported to Chile before it was nearly wiped out by phylloxera in France in the mid-nineteenth century. Today, wineries likeConcha y Toro are turning Carmenère into Chile's emblematic grape. When I first tasted Carmenère, I knew it had the personality to stand up to bold Nueva Latina cooking. Its lush black raspberry flavors, echoed by its carmine color (hence its name), are every bit the equal of such dishes as the guava-glazed pork here. Plus, its peppery finish complements the herb salsa, and its soft tannins match the velvety fava puree. Concha y Toro offers two terrific examples: the concentrated, complex 1999 Terrunyo ($29) and the 2001 Casillero del Diablo ($10), which is full of ripe berries, balanced by the toasty flavors of American oak.
--Ruth Van Waerebeek