‘Tis the season for events, which can even be said about the wine scene in Miami. From tastings to dinners, it’s been an exhausting but fun time. Most recently, I had the pleasure of joining Don Melchor’s Winemaker Enrique Tirado for a dinner, hosted by Ocean Drive Magazine, at Bourbon Steak at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry.
Photo courtesy Ocean Drive Magazine
To give some background, the history of Chilean wine dates to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. The industry underwent a “French revolution” in the 19th century with the arrival of new grape varieties and vinification techniques. Don Melchor Concha y Toro was one of the forerunners of that movement and brought French varieties from Bordeaux. He planted those vines in the Maipo Valley in 1883 and laid the foundations of what is now Viña Concha y Toro. The first vintage of Don Melchor was 1987 (a year before I was born), and from the beginning, French winemaker Jacques Boissenot, has participated in defining and making the final blend of each Don Melchor since the very first vintage. It’s become a family affair, as today his son, Eric Boissenot, continues his legacy a winemaking consultant.
Set in a private dining room, across a long table, Enrique welcomed guests and started the evening with the vintage that started it all. Below are some pairing and musings I was able to jot down, since I was trying to enjoy the experience. All the wines are made with Cabernet Sauvignon and they work with French oak for the final blend.
1987 Don Melchor was paired with Jamon Iberico, Crenshaw Melon, and aged balsamic.
The first vintage was produced in a climatically normal year. The wine has notes of smoke, tobacco, leather, earth, and pomegranate. Lots of complexity and the wine is still kicking.
1995 Don Melchor was paired with Michael Mina’s classic steak tartare. For this wine, they added a bit of Merlot into the blend. In this vintage, you get a bit more fruit, the green vegetal quality of South American cabs, and balsamic. It was well balanced and paired wonderfully with the tartare.
2008 and 2015 Don Melchor were paired with corn risotto, full of mushrooms and truffles (my fave). The 2008 was a warmer year and they added 3% of Cabernet Franc to the blend. I found it to be more fruit forward than the others with more acidity, slightly green, and grainy tannins. It was a bit more youthful. The 2015 had normal weather conditions. There were notes of red fruit, a slightly green quality, and graphite.
2017 Don Melchor was paired with prime angus rib cap and seared Hudson Valley foie gras (nom). They added 2% Cabernet Franc. The nose was delicious and red berry forward. It had nice tannins and a long finish.
We followed the meal with a raspberry confit, chocolate meringue, and raspberry sorbet.
It was such an amazing evening filled with conversation, laughs, delicious food, and – of course – great wine. Cheers to Don Melchor!