The Devil’s Wine

Michael Nagrant / 03.09.07

I had this 2005 Carmenere from Concha y Toro the other night, and went back and bought five bottles this morning at $6.99 a pop at Trader Joes (also available at Sams for a buck more locally here in Chicago). It’s honestly one of the best wines I’ve tasted this year. It reminds me of a $50 Bordeaux. It’s basically way more Salma Hayek (big, spicy, and deep) than it is Penelope Cruz (whispy thin and fruity).

Carmenere is thought by some to be an early genetic pre-cursor to more famous Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet. Vine grafts were preserved in South America, Chile etc, because the grape tasted so much like Merlot. This particular label, Casillero del Diablo has a nice backstory as well. In the 19th century, the founder of Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, discovered that his vineyard workers were sampling his greatest wines. To discourage this action, he spread the rumor that his deepest, darkest cellar was the Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil), so that no one would dare go in there. It worked, for a while, but it seems the poor hired help, writers like me, can once again drink the good stuff for a steal.

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