Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wine Review: Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon

You know the Devil is like Satan... from Hell. Or maybe he's just an impish sprite in a red leotard that likes to frolic in Chilean cellars and imbibe the fruit of the vine. If you were to ask the opinion of Don Melchor, he would probably go with the latter.

Last night I went down to the Devil's cellar and picked up a bottle of 2008 Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon. This dry red is produced in the Central Valley region of Chile by Concha y Toro and can be had for $9.99.

If I'm not mistaken, Concha y Toro translates to Shell and Bull - so what's all this about the Devil? I did a little investigating and snagged this tid-bit from the vintner's website: "Over a century has passed since Don Melchor created a legend. When he discovered his finest Concha y Toro wines were missing he spread the word that the devil lived in his cellar. From that day, the wine has been known as Casillero del Diablo, the devil's cellar."

Enough with the legend - let's talk about the wine! This bargain red has a deep ruby hue. The first whiff I got was the cassis or black currant. The cassis scent is predominant but after some work other aromatic notes are detectable. There is a hint of blackberry and a woody, smoky vanilla lingers from the eight-months this young wine spent in American Oak barrels.

The flavor is a cassis-fest as well. A quick note: Cassis = currant. Apparently we Americans prefer the French "cassis." Perhaps this is owed to our familiarity with creme de cassis, the liquor responsible for the fruitiness of a Tequilla Sunrise. I digress. The tartness of the cassis is overpowering. Yet subtle notes of dark roasted coffee and cherry come through and dance lightly on the taste-buds. After further tasting something takes me back to the waking hours of a backpacking trip through North Carolina - possibly the not-quite ripe blackberries I had for breakfast and the lingering odor of the still-smoldering camp fire.

The finish is short - lingering for three seconds or so and disappearing with a breath of alcohol. This wine has an astringent quality owed to the tannins, making it a little more bitter than I prefer. It would pair well with any red meat or cheese. Something about this wine makes me crave a good crispy salty peppery pork chop - something fatty to cut the acid. Alas, I settled for a little dark chocolate as I was fresh out of pig.


Overall I am not wowed by this Chilean Cab. The cassis comes on far too strong and prevents the drinker from enjoying the hints of coffee.
Melchor concocted the devil legend to keep people out of his cellar. I'll heed his warning next time.

3 out of 5 glasses

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