While thumbing through a monthly price guide from a wine salesman, I refound this weeks selection. It is a bottle that I used to recommend to customers years ago as a clerk at a liquor store. Back then I wasn’t too familiar with wines, but you pick up certain things listening to regular customers, salesmen and your boss. As a clerk in a liquor store with an expansive wine section, I needed to be able to suggest certain bottles that fit into a certain type and price range. This was one of my reliable wines. One that I knew I could recommend to a customer, that they would enjoy, that would also make me look like I knew what I was talking about. Now that I am older and more versed in the world of wine, I’ve decided to revisit this old standby.
Chilean wines have long been considered among the best in the world. Their wine producing roots can be traced as far back as the 16th century. Spanish conquistadors brought French vines with them as they colonized the region. In the late 1880′s, the Concha y Toro vineyard was founded. (Since becoming the largest producer of wines throughout Latin America.) However, it is not until the 1980′s that the Chilean wine market underwent a renaissance, which allowed them to increase production from their vintners. Chile now sits as the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world.
Casillero Del Diablo itself is surrounded by amusing stories, the most popular of which involves its name. Strictly translated it means “Devil’s Locker”. As legend has it, the devil himself was thought to have lurked within the cellars of the winery. It turns out this was a myth created by the founders of the vineyard, to serve as a deterrent to would-be thieves. In fact the owner, Don Melchor, was said to have dressed in a long black cloak and walked around the cellars while keeping an eye on things, thus giving credence to the rumors.
This Chardonnay is produced in the Limari Valley lying along the southern end of the Atacama Desert. (The driest place on earth.) The vines have to be irrigated in order to survive. It is this extremely hot and dry climate that contributes to the great characteristics and uniqueness of the grapes. The bottle is light lemon yellow in color and delivers aromas of pineapple, citrus and vanilla upon opening. The flavors are of crisp pear and apple, with a slight mineral edge that many believe can be attributed to the arid climate, located so close to the equator. It has bright acidity and a long finish.
It pairs well with cheese, chicken, seafood and creamy pasta dishes and is very reasonably priced ($7.99-$14.99 online). I can now recommend Casillero Del Diablo Chardonnay as a very good wine, based on personal experience, instead of the words of others.