Casillero del Diablo Merlot 1999
More than 135 years ago, Don Melchor de Concha y Toro was renowned for crafting some of the finest wines in Chile. Reserving for himself an exclusive batch of his best wines, he ignited a rumor that the devil himself was his cellar’s guardian—and in doing so, ensured thieves stayed away from his precious wines. This rumor became a legend that conquered the world, with Casillero del Diablo (“the devil’s cellar”) today recognized as one of the world’s leading wine brands. First released in 1963, Casillero del Diablo is a worldwide standard-bearer for premium quality Chilean wines—and the legend of the Devil’s Cellar lives on at the original Concha y Toro family estate, Chile’s leading tourist destination.
Vineyards for Casillero del Diablo’s celebrated wines hail from Chile’s Central Valley. Located mainly between parallels 30° and 40° south and in close proximity to capital city of Santiago, this internationally known wine region possesses the ideal characteristics for quality grape growing and winemaking. Among the valley's main features are the influence of the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, perfectly balanced soils and mountain-water rivers. This ideal terroir allows winemakers to craft an appealing variety of wine styles from many unique and increasingly popular sub-regions.
Tied to the history of the so-called “lost grape of Bordeaux,” Carmenѐre, the story of Chilean Merlot is a fascinating one. For decades in Chile the former was actually thought to be Merlot, so the two were typically planted together and harvested at the same time. Since Merlot is an early-ripening variety and Carmenѐre much later-ripening, the resulting wines often tasted unripe and vegetal. Not until 1994 was Chilean Carmenѐre identified correctly. As awareness grew, growers and winemakers began handling both grapes more optimally, leading to significant improvement in the wines.
Today Merlot ranks as the third most planted variety in Chile, behind Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. It is mostly found in the following valley DO’s, from north to south: Maipo, Cachapoal, Colchagua, Curicó and Maule. It can appear both in blends or on its own. Either way, Chilean Merlot tends to show characteristic aromas and flavors of ripe plums, dark berries and herbs, often accented by oak, with a mouthfeel that is round and full.