Casillero del Diablo Reserva Malbec 2015
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.
Touching the Pacific in the west and stretching up into the Andes on its eastern side, the Rapel Valley is one of the more substantial fine red wine producing regions of Chile and contains both the Colchagua Valley in its south and west and the Cachapoal in its north and east. While it is recognized for its exceptional warm-climate reds, the region does produce some fine Pinot noir and Sauvignon blanc on its coastal side.
Some of the country’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Rapel’s Andean foothills—with significant individualized smaller zones already identified. Soils here are mixtures of loam, clay, and sand; Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, and Merlot are the most prolific varieties throughout the region.
Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originated in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it continued to flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. A French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, brought Malbec to Argentina in 1868. But it did not gain its current reputation as the country's national grape until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century.
In the Glass
Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of blackberry, plum and licorice, appropriately backed by aromas of freshly turned earth and dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, Malbec will be intensely ripe, and full of fruit and spice. From its homeland in Cahors, its rusticity shines; dusty notes and a beguiling bouquet of violets balance rich, black fruit.
Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.
If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.