WHAT: I have long loved Concha y Toro’s many wines, especially their Casillero del Diablo line, but this version, labeled “Legendary Collection” really is something special.
It was created to commemorate the winery’s partnership with the Manchester United Football Club. For we Americans who think football means NFL, SEC or Big Ten, let me remind you that the rest of the world thinks football is the game where you kick a white ball into a net. We call it soccer.
Interest in soccer reached a fever pitch last year during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, won by Germany. The United States team played well and got further than expected. So last year everyone was talking about soccer. I even watched some of the games while drinking this wine. It made the games more interesting.
The soccer mania led to this special bottling, which features Man U’s Red Devil logo above a crimson red label. (Casillero del Diablo means devil’s cellar.) The label is signed by players Nemanja Vidic, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Ryan Giggs, now the team’s assistant manager.
Casillero del Diablo has partnered with Manchester United since 2010, and it seems appropriate since both have devils in their logos. And this label is clever. All that would mean nothing if the wine inside wasn’t special. Luckily, the wine is very special.
It starts with 90 percent Cabernet Sauvignon from Colchagua, one of the elite wine-growing regions in Chile. Casillero del Diablo’s lead winemaker Marcelo Papa, an avid soccer fan, has added 10 percent Carmenere to liven the flavor. He then added extra aging for super-smoothness: 14 months in a combination of medium-toast French and American oak barrels.
The resulting wine is spectacular. It is deep red in color, peppery and herbal on the nose. The tastes explode in your mouth with the first sip, starting with red fruit flavors, including cherry, plum and a touch of strawberry. As you sip it other flavors emerge: blackberry, chocolate, cassis. The elegant finish is long and velvety with smooth tannins.
This special edition comes in a black box and is easy to spot. If you can’t find it, a good substitute is the regular Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon. The two main differences between the wines is the regular Cab has no Carmenere blended in, and it is aged only eight months.
It still is a powerful, complex wine with smooth tannins. And it’s about one-third cheaper than the Legendary Collection.
Soccer fans can try out their goalie skills at the winery’s Web site: casillerodeldiablo.com/thegame. That takes you to a Facebook page with a fun game called The Devil’s Goalkeeper. You get a chance to stop some of Manchester United’s best players as they try to score.
If you want to drink one of these wines with a soccer match, there will be plenty of opportunities. NBC is broadcasting games of the British Premier League into May. Manchester United claims a fan base of eight million in the United States and more than 330 million worldwide, making them one of the most popular sports clubs in the world.
I wonder how many of those fans drink wine?
WINERY: The legend of Casillero del Diablo reaches back to the beginning of the Concha y Toro company in the late 1800s.
Don Melchor de Concha y Toro and his wife bought French vines and planted them in Chile in 1883. It soon became apparent that his best wines were being stolen from his cellar by his workers.
To frighten them off he put a drawing of the devil on the cellar door and started a rumor that his deepest cellars were haunted by the devil. The thefts soon stopped.
The winery has multiple labels and has become one of the top-selling wines in the world. Casillero del Diablo is the company’s best selling wine and is Chile’s best selling wine worldwide, going through more than 29 million cases a year in 135 countries.
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 varietals from Casillero del Diablo include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Shiraz, Shiraz Rose, Malbec, Pinot Noir, a red blend and a late harvest. All sell for about $12, 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.
GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I had the Casillero del Diablo with a pizza I made from a kit I bought at Costco. It’s such a simple thing to do, and while it isn’t nearly as good as my favorite pizza from Guisippe’s, the price is right. And it feels good to make something.
The package contains crusts and sauce. All you do is spread the sauce on the crust, add plenty of Italian cheese, especially Mozzarella, and whatever toppings you like. I like sausage and we both like tomato, onion and red bell pepper. Then pop it in the oven for a few minutes and you get perfect pizza.
This wine is perfect for pizza, too. The rich, complex flavors complement the tomato sauce and spicy sausage. This really turned out to be a great meal. It also would pair well with steak, hamburgers, pasta in tomato sauce and hard cheeses.