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Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 12/11: Tasting Concha y Toro Series Riberas Gran Reserva

The Time and Date: Thursday, May 12, 2011  11AM to 2PM

The Event: a tasting of premium Concha y Toro wines in the "Series Riberas Gran Reserva" tier, with Concha y Toro's wine ambassador, Gabriel Salas, who gave a technical presentation.

The Venue: the agent's offices (Select Wine Merchants, Queen Street East)

The Target Audience: there were five wine journalists at this preview press tasting.

The Availability/Catalogue: none of the wines are currently available, although the Cabernet Sauvignon is coming to Vintages this fall.

The Quote/Background: This new series, all line-priced at about $16.95 for each variety, comes from the different terroirs in Chile that abut the rivers of Chile's grape-growing valleys. Each variety is grown by a different river. The proximity of the rivers allows the ocean breezes and cold winds from the mountains to pass along the rivers' corridors, allowing for a concentration of flavours. No area is more than 14 kilometres away from the Pacific. There are now seven varieties in the program; Pinot Noir will be added later.

Concha y Toro sells more than 28 million case of wine globally. They have 42 different vineyards with 30 different winemakers. For this Serie Riberas, American rootstock was used to avoid any possibility of phylloxera.

The Wines: These are my own, personal ratings, along with some comments. There was also a celebratory Casillero del Diablo Brut Chardonnay NV from Limari region ($12.95 if available) that was extremely pleasant for the price, alcohol (12%), and method (Charmat).


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Concha y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2010 Ribera del Rapel, Ucuquer Vyd, Colchagua: barrel-fermented, aged nine months in French oak, no malo-lactic, mild and fruity, sweet-oak ripeness and slight tropicality, some Burgundian elements (e.g., hazelnuts). 14% ABV.

-Concha y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Merlot 2009 Ribera del Maule, Mariposa Vyd, San Clemente: 5% syrah added, extractive, plums and US oak, a big wine, mouth-coating palate, very American with currently tight tones, chocolate. 12 months in half French and half US oak. 14.5% ABV. Vineyard planted in 1990s. Definitely lay down at this point.

-Concha y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Ribera del Tinguiririca, Palo Santo Vyd, Marchigue (Colchagua): red clay helps make this a big wine (but drinking well now), with some herbaceous quality (10% carmenere added), lovely wine, good detail, red fruit, sweetish finish, not hot despite 14.5% ABV. 13 months in 80% French oak, balance US oak.


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Concha y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Ribera del Rapel, Ucuquer Vyd Colchagua: three clones used, sur lie, vivid nose, lemons, minerals, long finish. 13.5% ABV.

-Concha y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Carmenere 2006 Ribera del Cachapoal, Peumo Vyd, Peumo: 10% cabernet sauvignon added. 13 months in half French and half US oak. Bright, lively nose, woodsy flavour, some fennel, mocha too, black fruit. Food wine. 14% ABV.


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Concha y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Malbec 2009 Ribera del Tinguiririca, Palo Santo Vyd, Marchigue (Colchagua): reticent nose needs time to open, good structure and body, close concentration, blueberries and black fruit, food wine, hot finish, 13 months in 80% French oak and 20% US oak. 14.5% ABV.

-Concha y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Syrah 2009 Ribera del Loncomilla Villa Alegre Vyd, Maule: lacks syrah nose initially, not a full bodied syrah, dry, with a higher acids finish, plums, chocolate, jammy but maturing early? Restrained? 14.5% ABV.


The Food: we had fresh fruit, coffees, and breads for breakfast. For lunch, we went to Prohibition Gastrohouse and ordered off the menu. We shared mac and cheese, Caesar salad, green salad, pulled pork, soup, bison burgers, and the like. At this time, Select offered us a 2006 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, which was best appreciated on its own in order to savour the flavours. Nevertheless, the Marques des Casa Concha Carmenere 2008 was perfect with the pub grub, as was the Italian Montalto Pinot Grigio (with the veggies).

The Downside: Somehow, Gabriel picked up the sobriquet "Hector", one of the winemakers back in Chile.

The Upside: a chance to investigate the commonalities of a line-priced series of wines not yet generally available. It was appreciated.

The Contact Person: or

The Marketing Effectiveness/Execution of the Event(numerical grade): 94.



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