Casillero del Diablo Red Blend 2011, Chile

Cost: $11-13

What: During the cool winter months hearty red wines are the choice with most meals. There is something about a bold red that warms you up from the inside out.

Some of the best wintertime reds come from Chile, where producing great wine is a national passion. Some of the best values among Chilean wines come from the Casillero del Diablo line of Concha y Toro. The Red Blend is one of the best of these wines.

I find it interesting that the great Chilean reds also are wonderful grilling wines. So if you happen to be grilling something in cold weather, you get doubly blessed with these wines.

The Casillero del Diablo Red blend combines Syrah, Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon into a delightful wine. It’s full-bodied without being heavy. The lively fruit is balanced with good acidity, leading to a long finish.

Casillero del Diablo Red Blend
Casillero del Diablo Red Blend

It’s a deep, rich red-purple in the glass, with pleasant aromas of black fruit. The flavors are black cherry and plum with round but firm tannins. It has a velvety mouthfeel.

The grapes come from the Rapel Valley which produces about a quarter of Chile’s wines. The valley lies between the Andes and the Coastal Range mountains, protecting the vineyards from weather extremes.

The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks. After blending it is aged eight months in French and American oak. The blend is 60 percent Syrah, 25 percent Carmenere and 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.

I would open the bottle at least 30 minutes before serving it.

The Concha y Toro company traces its history back to Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, a Chilean statesman, entrepreneur and vineyard owner in the late 1800s. He brought vines from Bordeaux and planted them on his estate.

He created the legend of the Casillero del Diablo when he discovered that some of his best wines were being stolen from his cellar. Don Melchor spread the rumor that his deepest cellars were haunted by the devil. That’s where he put his best wine, and the thefts stopped.

Concha y Toro kept the name, which means “cellar of the devil,” and it is now the company’s best selling wine. 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.

The firm started exporting Casillero del Diablo wines to Europe and then to the United States in the 1960s. It now sells more than 29 million cases a year in more than 135 countries. Casillero del Diablo is Chile’s best selling wine worldwide. Each bottle has a devil’s mask stamped into the glass.

Other varietals from Casillero del Diablo include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Shiraz, Shiraz Rose, Malbec, Pinot Noir and a late harvest. All are the same price, and all are well-made and delicious.

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.

Casillero del Diablo with chicken noodle soup and hot bread.
Casillero del Diablo with chicken noodle soup and hot bread.

Goes with: During our recent cold spell I really wanted soup to warm me up. While I thawed out chicken soup that I had made and frozen a few weeks before, Teri bought flowers and did an arrangement.

I think she thought she could trick me into thinking it was spring, but it was way too cold for that. I needed hot soup and wine to warm me from the inside out. And I needed a good red wine.

The Casillero del Diablo fit the bill perfectly. There are some red wines I wouldn’t serve with chicken soup, but this one is nicely rounded with smooth tannins. The fruit and gentle acidity mixed well with the creamy richness of the soup and noodles.

Because this is such a good wine for grilling it also would pair well with a thick steak, pork chops, a chopped Boston Butt with barbecue sauce or lamb chops.

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