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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Casillero del Diablo Blend Is Scary Good Halloween Choice

Casillero del DiabloRed Blend 2017, Chile

Cost: $11-13

It’s that spooky, scary time of year when ghosts and goblins come out and we try to figure out what’s an appropriate wine to pair with candy bars and caramel apples.

There are a number of good choices from Gato Negro (black cat) to Boneshaker Zin to Vampire Cab to Bogle Phantom.

But for me the Halloween winner often is Casillero del Diablo. The name means “devil’s cellar.” The label, which is part of the famed Concha y Toro winery, has several good wines, but my favorites are the cabernet sauvignon and the red blend. Both are hearty, flavorful wines that are perfect for cool winter nights.

Casillero del Diablo Red Blend 2017 ($11-13) is particularly smooth and delicious. It is a mix of 60 percent syrah, 25 percent cabernet sauvignon and 15 percent carmenere. Syrah is an underappreciated grape, and carmenere is soft and smooth, easy to drink. Mix them all together and you get an incredibly silky wine with a great mouthfeel.

The bottle is spot on for Halloween, with a devil’s mask embedded in the bottle and a label which suggest blood-smeared letters. The label is the only thing scary about this wine.

At this price you can have several on hand when the adult trick-or-treaters drop by or if you want to have a little adult party fun.

In the glass the wine is a deep purple, likely from the syrah. Dark fruit aromas dominate the first sips, especially black cherry and plum. Dark plums are the main flavor, but the wine is so balanced and complex, the chief sensation you come away with is smooth. Casillero del Diablo overdelivers on the taste experience for a wine a this price.

It all wraps up with a lingering, mellow aftertaste and rich mouthfeel.

The cab is just as tasty, with more notes of cherry and cassis. It also is a little tighter wine with more powerful tannins evident. I suspect it also spends more time in barrels than the red blend. The price is the same.

The grapes all come from Chile’s productive Central Valley. After fermentation the wine is aged in oak barrels. This wine is widely available and often can be found at a price lower than the suggested retail price.

There are many great values to be found among wines from Chile, which is blessed with a perfect climate and spectacular growing regions. Tucked between the Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, the grape vines are protected from damaging climate extremes. The valleys and hillsides usually see warm days and cool nights.

You can be scared by many things at Halloween, but the taste and price of wines from Chile won’t be among them.

Winery: As part of the Concha y Toro wine empire Casillero del Diablo has a long and rich history.

The legend is that Concha y Toro founder Don Melchor de Concha y Toro discovered that some of his best wines were missing from his cellar. To discourage the thieves the enterprising Don spread the rumor that his cellars were haunted by the devil. He even painted the devil’s face on the cellar door.

The thefts stopped and Don Melchor put his best wines in that cellar.

The company, which now sells more than 29 million cases of wine a year in 135 countries, began when Don Melchor brought vines from Bordeaux and planted them on his estate in the late 1800s. It has continued to grow ever since.

The company makes a wide variety of wines at several price points, but the best selling wines are under the Casillero del Diablo label. The Concha y Toro winery has 11,200 acres of vines spread throughout Chile’s major wine regions: Maipo, Maule, Rapel, Colchagua, Curico, and Casablanca.

Other Concha y Toro brands include Gran Reserva, Don Melchor, the Terrunyo line and Marqués de Casa Concha. Its principal subsidiaries are Viña Cono Sur, Viña Maipo, Viña Palo Alto, Viña Maycas del Limarí, Trivento Bodegas y Viñedos, which operates in Argentina, and the joint venture with the prestigious winery, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, which produces the Almaviva brand.

Other varietals from Casillero del Diablo include chardonnay, pinot grigio, viognier, carmenere, merlot, shiraz, shiraz rosé, malbec, pinot noir and a late harvest. All are the same price, and all are well-made and delicious.

I have enjoyed Concha y Toro wines for years, and remember getting a case of Concha y Toro cabernet sauvignon as a gift in the mid-1980s, back when it sold for $5 a bottle.

Goes with: We had this delicious wine with a spicy chicken enchilada casserole. It was a wonderful pairing. The casserole is made with tasty rotisserie chicken and lights up the taste buds.

The warm red wine calms everything down and leaves your mouth with a satisfied feeling. The smooth tannins keep the wine from clashing with the big tastes of the casserole. The fruity flavors, balance and silky tannins keep everything tasting just right.

This wine also would pair well with many kinds of grilled meat including steak, rosemary lamb chops, pork ribs, lamb stew with herbs and a wide variety of wild game.

If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at dennis@bottlereport.com

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