WHAT: I love the Casillero del Diablo sauvignon blanc for three good reasons.
First, it tastes great. This is a fantastic example of sauvignon blanc, with all the taste characteristics of much more expensive wines.
Second, it’s a great bargain. It is difficult to find wine this good at such a low price.
Finally, it’s a great Halloween wine. I love all the fun and costumes around Halloween (although dressing in drag for my church’s Halloween carnival might not have been my best moment, but that’s a story for another day. I thought I was cute.)
The reason it’s a great Halloween wine is the story behind the label. Back near the end of the 19th century, Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, a pioneer Chilean winemaker and statesman, noticed that some of his best wines were disappearing from
the cellar beneath his home.
To stop the thefts, he spread the rumor that his deepest cellars were haunted by the devil. That’s where he placed his best wine and the thefts stopped. Casillero del Diablo means “cellar of the devil.”
The name stuck, and today’s bottles even have a devil’s mask stamped in the glass above the label.
That’s a great story, but all I really care about is how great this wine tastes and how inexpensive it is.
In the glass, it is a beautiful straw color with green highlights. Strong aromas of citrus and peaches pour out of the glass, leading to an explosion of flavors on the palate.
It is elegant, round, balanced and loaded with grapefruit and grapefruit peel flavors. Some sauvignon blancs overdo the grapefruit, but in the Casillero del Diablo the flavors are mellower. It has a smooth mouthfeel and
a nice balance of crisp acidity.
The grapes are grown in the Casablanca, Limari and Rapel valleys, which, like most areas of Chile, are influenced by ocean breezes, letting the fruit ripen over a long period of time. The wine was aged in stainless steel tanks to preserve the sharp, fresh flavors.
This wine is ready to drink when you get it home. Just serve it chilled and allow it to warm slightly in the glass before drinking.
WINERY: Casillero del Diablo is part of the Concha y Toro company, the iconic winery of Chile. It would be difficult to find a wine drinker not familiar with Concha y Toro, which sells more than 29 million cases of wine a year in 137 countries.
Don Melchor founded the winery 130 years ago when he brought vines from Bordeaux and planted them on his estate.
The company has continued to grow over the years, becoming the best known winery in Chile. Casillero del Diablo is one of the best-selling wines in the world.
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, 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: We were packing to go out of town and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking, so for dinner one night we just steamed some shrimp we had brought back from Edisto.
We thawed some leftover wild rice and added a big salad and had a feast.
I even made some lime Jell-O, topped with whipped cream, while my wife, Teri, wrinkled her nose at me.
The tart grapefruit tastes in the wine nicely balanced the sweet flavor of the shrimp. I squeeze lemon juice on my shrimp before dipping them in cocktail sauce so that citrus flavor complemented the flavor in the wine.
This wine also would go well with many other kinds of seafood such as grilled fish or clams and oysters on the half shell. I think it would pair well with grilled or roasted chicken.