Today my Dad and I took a tour of a local winery, Concha y Toro in Pirque (about 20K from Providencia). It’s actually the biggest winery in South America and one of the biggest in the world. If you haven’t heard of them…well you probably have and didn’t realize it. When I walked in, I immediately recognized one of the labels, “Casillero del Diablo”, from The States, however, I had never heard the legend behind this name.
Casillero del Diablo literally means “The Devil’s Cellar”. Why choose this name for a bottle of wine?
Well the original owners of the winery kept their most expensive wines underground in their cellar, with the most precious ones, reserved for their friends and family, behind a locked gate. Legend has it, that one night they were robbed and the thieves took all the wine from that locker. After that, the family started spreading a rumor that their cellar was haunted by the Devil himself.
They never had another robbery.
This myth has now become a popular tourist attraction. On our tour, our guide brought us into the cellar, told us the story and then, “left to get something”. He closed the big iron doors behind him and the lights went out. Suddenly, red and orange lights flickered and we saw “The Devil” appear on the cellar wall. His voice echoed off the stone walls as he left his warning.
After we “survived” our tour, (and just to be clear I am 22 years old, of legal drinking age in Chile and the U.S.) we got to sample a few of the wines.
One grape that I didn’t know much about was the Carménère. Originally from Bordeaux, France, the grape was thought to be extinct after a plague wiped out all the vines. Luckily, unbeknownst to the French, it had been previously been brought over to Chile and was being grown there along side the Merlot grapes. It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that a French professor discovered the grapes and determined that they weren’t Merlot, but in fact the long lost Carménère.
The Carménère I got to sample was the Carmín de Peumo, which is considered to be the best Carménère in the world! It was sort of smokey and earthy with notes of blackberries…at least that’s what the sommelier told me. I’m no wine expert, but it was delicious! And a steal at only $140 a bottle!
Yeah…it was a bit out of my post-grad budget, but I’m glad I got a chance to taste it!
The “Casillero del Diablo” Carménère is only about $15, so I may have to get a bottle of that when I come home. Hopefully, to my unrefined pallet, it will taste about the same!
- Overheard at a wine-tasting: Eavesdropping on winemakers (denverpost.com)
- Ideas for Pairing Carmenere Wine with Food (wine.answers.com)
- Old Carmenere, Wine of Wines (wine.answers.com)
- Concha y Toro celebrates its 130th anniversary with a global contest on Instagram (sys-con.com)
- Q&A with Marcelo Papa (thedrinksbusiness.com)