The legend sounds like something out of a Hollywood movie. Don Melchor de Concha y Toro has brought an amazing collection of wines from France to his estate in Chile. However, he notices that bottles of his best vintages keep disappearing, as if by magic. The Don decides to use the superstitions of the locals to protect his cellar. He describes the demon, El Diablo, that is stealing his wines, and thus the legend of el Casillero del Diablo was born.
The bigger mystery? How this Chilean powerhouse in the winemaking industry can create such delectable and drinkable vintages with such a reasonable price.
We had the chance to meet with the winery’s Chief Sommelier Massimo Leonori while he was in Dallas to learn about identifying and appreciating wine based solely upon the scent notes. We met the Scent Master at Addison’s Fogo de Chao, an appropriate destination for wines that pair so well with grilled and roasted meats.
We were presented with wine glasses poured with essential scents, including violet, cherry, plum, blackberry, raspberry, black currant, dried fig and black pepper. And in black wine glasses, we were presented three of the winery’s 2018 varietals. We swirled and sniffed each wine – but did not taste (that was hard!), and we tried to identify the three primary notes we should be sensing based upon the goals of the winemaker. Then, we shared our thoughts with the gracious Massimo, who very kindly helped us find the correct answers.
Finally (yeah!), we got to TASTE each glass and then try to identify the varietal of each. The first, a delicate pinot noir, featured notes of cherry, raspberry and violet. It’s development was French in style and it was very drinkable and easy. Next, was our favorite surprise of the night. We often treat Carmeniere as a blending grape but for the team at Casillero del Diablo it’s definitely a star. The fruit foreward glass featured notes of blackberry, black pepper and violet, and was a perfect pairing with the grilled lamb at Fogo de Chao. Finally, we were mesmerized by the depth of the fruits in the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was redolent with plum, cassis and dry fig, and was perfect for the cooler weather coming up.
Massimo was generous with his knowledge of Chilean growing regions, making us crave a trip to visit the winery’s new visitor center which will allow guests to enjoy tastings in Santiago when it is complete.
Since these wines are readily available for less than $12 a bottle at lots of local stores, we’re willing to make a deal with El Diablo himself for the chance to enjoy them again.