Words: Henry & Stephanie Yuen
Marques de Casa Concha
Well received by Canadian wine drinkers, Canada is without a doubt an important market for Chilean wines. Expressed by full-bodied wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, yet the drinkability does not limit to reds only. Easy to approach is certainly the other factor. For those looking for everyday drinking wines within budget, the consistently reasonable price points puts another check mark in the consumer-friendly box.
Chile has been exporting wines to Canada since 1940s but it was during the last 15 to 20 years that importers come to realize that the Canadian market was ready for more serious and higher quality wines. In order to solidify their market shares in Canada, Chilean wineries understand and consent that mid-tier wines with good quality and wallet-friendly price tags must be produced to garner the attention and support of the consumers in major Canadian markets. The fact that Don Melchor by Concha y Toro, the only Chilean wine enlisted as one of the Top 10 in the world tells of the recent effort the Chilean wine industry stresses to gain that attention. Sure, average customers do not drink a Don Melchor (priced at about $90) casually but the good thing is, there is an abundance of approachable Chilean wines in the market.
Winemaker Marcelo Papa of Marques de Casa Concha was in Vancouver to talk about this label while sharing the latest news of Chilean wine movements and strategies. According to Marcelo, the trend towards more balanced wines in the marketplace opened doors to new collective synergies amongst wineries and winemakers. Wine consumers still yearn for full-bodied wines, they also demand wines that offer them the nuance of the fruits and the natural nourishment of terroirs, hence the transformation to slightly less oak influence and more fruit expression wines.
First launched in 1976, Marques de Casa Concha wines has gone through various changes and improvements. It has now successfully set the standard for crafting delicious wines that agreeably over-deliver its value most of the time. The changes Marques de Casa Concha saw involved incorporating new vineyards in the Maipo Valley located in central Chile. Trimming of leaves during flowering allows higher sun exposure. Fruits are picked a bit earlier than before to render brighter acidity. Less new French oak is used along with less barrel aging time. In most cases, 5000 litres foudres is used to impart less oak influence and to retain desired structure. A slightly lowered alcohol level is the final objective when crafting these wines. All these improvements result in wines that are more elegant, fruit forward and pleasing body structure. At the Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio, we sipped through Marcelo Papa’s wines with a seafood themed luncheon which allowed us a good understanding and appreciation of what Chilean wineries have gone through and came up with.
Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2014: Sourced from a single vineyard in Limari Valley in the northern part of Chile, this Chardonnay strips out the normal tasting profile of its genre. Lightly oaked but not over-bearing at all, the limestone hint and dry peach aroma leading to refreshing citrus and a tingle of grape fruit finish. 'Balance' is an apt description of this contemporary Chardonnay. (BC Liquor stores $18.99) .
Marques de Casa Concha Pais Cinsault 2014: Marcelo brought this wine with him to showcase the transformation of the label and to demonstrate the philosophy behind Marcelo Papa’s wines. With only 200 cases produced, it was indeed a privilege to taste this well-crafted wine that unfortunately will take a long while to enter the market here. This limited edition wine is crafted with dry-farmed grapes from old vines of 85% Pais and 15% Cinsault in stainless steel tanks. A fresh wine with strawberry jam notes and black datesries, the sun-dried gojiberries hints tentalize the palate with smoothness. This versatile wine with lingering alure is a good choice to pair with a spectrum of seafood dishes.
Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere 2014: A layered wine paired nicely with Glazed Sablefish brushed with wakame chimichurri, this Carmenere is sourced from Peumo Vineyard. The 8-day closed tank fermentation with traditional pumpovers provides a gentle yet luscious mouth feel. Well balanced with enough fruits and a soft finish, this wine is a steal at $21.49. (Available at BC Liquor stores).Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 & Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition 2013: A side-by-side tasting of these two wines prolonged the salivating sensation. The 2015 is aged 16 months in French oak barrels and in 5000 litres foudre. With only 25% new oak and 25% untoasted oak cast, the fruit is more vibrant. Lined with vivid blackberries and cassis notes leading to an illusive hint of cedar, the finish is lengthy and elegant. This wine is available in BC Liquor stores for $20.99.
Limited Edition 2013: Aged in 5000 litres foudres with extra aging time but no new oak, this is a delightful wine with mellow structure but explosive flavours. A fine Cabernet Sauvignon with elements of dark berries, cocoa, dried barks and spicy hints, the layered finish is also velvety. Only 550 cases are produced and is available for special events.
Vigno Carignan 2014: A mouth-watering rendition of the Carignan does not come to this part of the world very often and is available for special events only. The “Vigno” designation is a strict protocol that participating wineries in Chile recently agreed upon to revive this particular varietal. Wine must be aged 24 months with at least 65% of Carignan. These bush vines in the Maule region of south Chile must be dry farmed and are no less than 30 years old . With these strict guidelines, the resulting wine can be described as pure and natural with limited intervention in both the vineyard and winery level to truly represent the terroir of the region.
Casillero Del Diablo Leyenda Limited Edition 2014: Paired with the final cheese course, the Leyenda range Cabernet Sauvignon is delicious and juicy with substance due to 10 months in French oak and a further 10 months in untoasted French foudres to obtain the beautiful balance and structure. A wine filled with characters and delicious enough to savour on its own. (Exclusive to events only)