Wine of the Week: Chile’s Iconic Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon & Winemaker Enrique Tirado

Enrique Tirado, Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word “icon” as: “relating to or characteristic of a famous person or thing that represents something of importance.” While we’re accustomed to hearing this word used to refer to a person, what exactly does “icon” mean when used to refer to a wine?

Much like Joan Rivers was a true comedic icon, the term refers to something that is original, exceptional and enduring with a proven track record and standard of excellence to which others rightly aspire. In wine, excellence is dictated by many factors including vineyard location, soil type, grape variety, climate, viticultural practices, winemaking techniques, and how these factors come together to consistently produce an excellent product year after year even in the face of adverse conditions. Recently I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Enrique Tirado, Winemaker of one of Chile’s true icon wines, Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon.

Don Melchor, Concha y Toro, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile, Puente Alto, wine

In 1883 Don Melchor Concha y Toro planted the first noble vines he and his wife brought back from Bordeaux in the Maipo Valley at the foot of the Andes mountains. This planting laid the ground for what would later become Concha y Toro which, after decades of growth and expansion, became the world’s first winery to have its shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Today it is a global brand whose distribution extends to 125 countries around the globe. In remembrance of its founder’s entrepreneurial spirit, Concha y Toro created Don Melchor in 1987, a wine which paved the way for a new era in Chilean wine, proving the country could in fact produce some serious, world class wine.

Don Melchor, Concha y Toro, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile, Puente Alto,

Enrique Tirado joined the Don Melchor team in 1997 and, after proving his winemaking acumen and demonstrating his tireless dedication to research of different terroirs, was appointed as the wine’s sole winemaker in 1999. According to Tirado, “Don Melchor’s style captures the complexity and finesse expressed through the perfect balance of the stony Puente Alto soil, the Andean breeze, the generous Maipo Valley climate and the thirty years vines have taken to produce their best grapes.” His enduring passion for the Puente Alto terroir was evident during a recent trade tasting at Miami’s Capital Grille. During the tasting we were able to sample all the Don Melchor vineyard parcels allocated to this storied wine. The vineyard is divided into seven parcels of which six are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and one is planted to Cabernet Franc. Sampling each individual parcel and noting the distinct differences of each proved to be a wonderful lesson in the art of blending; Parcel 1 demonstrated expressive notes of black fruit and sweet tannins; Parcel 4 had wonderful acid and tannin structure accompanied by ripe red fruit; and Parcel 7, the sole Cabernet Franc parcel, was characterized by the variety’s hallmark notes of black tea, earth and candied violet. It quickly became obvious how selecting the right proportion of each parcel could prove to be a daunting, yet rewarding task.

Don Melchor, Concha y Toro, Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, wine

After sampling the parcels, Tirado got to his specialty: blending! First, he created a blend which represented each parcels’ percentage of the 127 hectare Don Melchor vineyard. For example if Parcel 1 was 22% of the entire vineyard, the wine from that parcel comprised 22% of the blend. Based on this approach, our group generally concurred Blend #1 was very expressive with plenty of ripe fruit character, however, lacked structure and acidity. To remedy this, Tirado asked us (yes, us!) which parcels we would add more or less of to improve the blend. With some guidance from him, we examined the parcels and decided to add more of Parcel 4, raising it from 17% to 30% of the blend, as well as decrease the amount of Parcel 5, taking it from 20% to 8%. This blend, creatively dubbed Blend #2, had more acidity and tannin however the wine was not balanced. We all agreed it would probably benefit from additional time in the bottle although it would not quite fix everything that was wrong with it. Tirado made a very valuable point that if a wine’s tannins are out of balance when it is made, no amount of cellar age will fix it. As a group effort, I think we actually did pretty darn good and as it opened up in the glass, most of us actually preferred Blend #2 to Blend #1.

After our blending tutorial, we were rewarded with a glass of 2010 Don Melchor, a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc (we were not privy to the parcel percentage breakdown) aged for 15 months in French oak barrels (76% new, 24% second use). The 2010 vintage was characterized by lower than normal temperatures which delayed the onset of harvest so the grapes could adequately ripen. The result is a full-bodied wine with an intense, ruby red color and expressive aromas of red and black fruit, graphite and earth. On the palate, mouth-filling flavors of pomegranate, plum, cocoa and hoisin are seamlessly integrated and accompanied by elegant tannins and a fresh acidity making this wine perfectly enjoyable now, yet it will definitely benefit from years in the cellar. Critical acclaim and accolades for this icon wine are indeed plentiful with six vintages of the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon ranking among Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the Year; the publication also awarded the 2010 vintage 95 points.

The Capital Grille, Miami, Filet Mignon, Steak Tartare

We enjoyed our assortment of wines with a delicious lunch consisting of a flavorful Steak Tartare with Truffle Deviled Egg followed by a melt in your mouth Filet Mignon (perfectly cooked medium-rare) accompanied by au gratin potatoes and roasted green beans and garlic. Needless to say the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon made a perfect pairing for the filet and was a delightful conclusion to a very informative and enjoyable tasting.

For information on purchasing the 2010 Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon ($99) please click here to visit the Wine Atelier.




The post Wine of the Week: Chile’s Iconic Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon & Winemaker Enrique Tirado appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.

Movie Review: Jon Favreau’s “Chef” is the Foodie Film of the Year!

If films such as Big Night, Julie & Julia, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi whet your appetite, get ready for the latest addition to the Foodie Movie Hall of Fame, namely Jon Favreau’s recently released Chef. In addition to featuring some of the best food porn of all time (including a grilled cheese scene that will have you drooling in your popcorn!) this delightful film boasts an all-star cast worthy of a Summer blockbuster. Well-known names such as Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt and John Leguizamo add tremendous depth to this charming indie film.

Chef deserves recognition for many reasons not the least of which is Favreau’s ability to play the part of a Chef so convincingly. You’d think he’s been secretly working in a kitchen all these years while simultaneously writing, directing and starring in an assortment of our favorite films including Iron Man (1, 2 and 3), Elf, The Avengers, Rudy and of course the 90′s classic Swingers which originally launched his career. From the way he wields a Chef’s knife to the tattoos that span the length of his meaty arms, Favreau is spot on. In order to achieve such proficiency he trained in the kitchens of Chef Roy Choi, Chef and Owner of Kogi Gourmet Korean Taco Truck, as well as an intensive, week-long stint at culinary school. His immersion in his character is reflective of the passion he has widely admitted to having for this film which he also wrote, produced and directed.

The story is about Chef Carl Casper who, having emerged as a rising star a few years prior, is mired in a creatively stifling job in Los Angeles cooking for a controlling, sweetbread-averse restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman) whose only concern is keeping the menu the way it’s always been. Casper also happens to be going through a divorce from his wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) while trying to maintain a relationship with his son Percy (the adorable Emjay Anthony). When faced with a dismal review from a very influential food blogger, Casper knows he has to prove the offending meal was not reflective of his ability and talent. What he doesn’t anticipate is the impact social media will have on his life and career. While 2009′s Julie & Julia brought food blogging to the fore, this film cleverly addresses the array of current social media platforms such as Twitter, Vine, and YouTube and how they intersect with the global foodie community. The resulting cyber-shenanigans lead Casper on a cross-country, culinary Odyssey which will leave him and those who love and believe in him forever changed.

In addition to Los Angeles, the film is also shot on location in some famous foodie meccas across the country including New Orleans’ Cafe Du Monde and Austin’s Franklin Barbeque. Scenes were also shot on location here in Miami, featuring landmarks such as Hoy Como Ayer, Versailles in Little Havana and the Fontainebleau using only locals as extras.

Chef offers up a delicious buffet of comedy, drama, inspiration and, at the very least, some serious culinary eye candy that will definitely have you lining up for seconds. Before I give anymore away, please make a date to see this delightful film and just a word of advice…don’t go on an empty stomach!


Living “La Dolce Vita” at Cavalli Miami Restaurant & Lounge!

If you’re a fan of fashion, food & wine, and sunny South Florida, this glamorous trio is beautifully embodied in the latest addition to Miami’s South Beach social scene, the Cavalli Miami Restaurant & Lounge.

This establishment marks the first of its kind in the US for world-renowned Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli and his son Tommaso (pictured above). “The pleasure of listening to enjoyable music, accompanied by great food and good company in an elegant and sophisticated setting,” is Cavalli’s philosophy behind the new concept. Father and son also collaborate on their eponymous line of wines from their family-owned and run Tuscan estate, Tenuta Degli Dei, which were the focus of a recent wine dinner hosted by Tommaso at the new establishment.

The designer’s influence on the multi-level space located on Ocean Drive is immediately evident. The stark, “South Beach white” exterior features the unmistakable Cavalli logo backlit in neon white above the entryway. The interior is sultry and sophisticated with Cavalli’s signature animal prints adorning the banquettes, tables and menus. Fashionable vignettes throughout the downstairs dining room feature bottles of the Cavalli wines displayed with glossy hardcover books, elegant decor elements and photos of Cavalli against a backdrop of brightly colored, floral patterned fabrics.

While the downstairs dining room is fashionably chic, upstairs is clearly intended to be the hub of late night activity. Here, the swanky decor exudes South Beach’s “club” vibe with a Cavalli-esque twist. Beveled mirrored walls reflect a backdrop of sumptuous velvet curtains while sleek black leather and leopard print seating areas surround a black lacquer DJ booth just beckoning you to get your dance on!

In addition to the ambiance, the food and wine were also quite fabulous. The tasting menu was paired with a selection of Cavalli wines crafted by winemaker Carlo Ferrini, Wine Enthusiast’s 2007 Winemaker of the Year. Ferrini has created a critically acclaimed portfolio of wines and Sommelier Matias Benjamin Vergara guided us through the evening’s selections which were paired with the deliciously authentic, Italian cuisine of Chef Stefano Mazzi.

First was Tuscan Chianina Beef Tartare, featuring beef from one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world. Indigenous to Italy, Chianina beef is traditionally used to prepare the classic Tuscan dish Bistecca alla Fiorentina which is the perfect accompaniment for virtually all of Tuscany’s red wines. The Chianina tartare was paired with the 2010 Tenuta Degli Dei “Le Redini” IGT, a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Alicante. This supple red wine had aromas and flavors of red cherry, licorice and spice and complemented the flavor and texture of the meat beautifully.

For the “Primi” or pasta course, heavenly Tuscan Wild Boar Ravioli was served with shaved black truffle and a decadent drizzle of truffle oil. The house-made ravioli were the perfect texture, melting in my mouth along with the flavorful, tender meat. This delicious dish was paired with the 2007 Tenuta Degli Dei IGT, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot aged for 18 months in French oak barrique. This wine had fragrant floral and dark fruit aromas while on the palate, flavors of blackberry, plum and spice accompanied a velvety texture, supple tannins, and a lengthy finish.

For the “Secondi” or Main course Lamb Shank Osso Bucco with Risotto alla Milanese was flavorful and delicious. The risotto was cooked to perfection and the succulent lamb shank was perfectly tender and falling off the bone. The dish was paired with the 2009 Tenuta Degli Dei IGT, a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 15% Petit Verdot. The wine had notes of violet, black currant, cherry, and spice with firm tannins and a bright acidity which stood up nicely to the rich osso bucco.

Dessert consisted of Chocolate al Gianduia paired with the Tenuta Degli Dei Grappa, the perfect finale to a delicious evening. Next time you’re in South Florida and feel like living “La Dolce Vita” spend an evening at Cavalli Miami Restaurant and Lounge. Who knows, after dinner you might even stay for a dance or two.

Cavalli Miami Restaurant & Lounge
150 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL
Dinner nightly from 6pm