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For more than three decades, Chile’s Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon has been considered one of the world’s top wines. A Chilean legacy wine and a favorite of Cabernet Sauvignon collectors, Don Melchor was the first Chilean wine to showcase the country’s profound potential for quality. Its second vintage (1988) was the first Chilean wine to be named to Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the World, where it has since placed nine times, including three placements in the Top 10.
The current 2018 release maintains and even exceeds, the label’s renowned quality, earning a 100-point score from global wine critic James Suckling, who said of the wine, “Don Melchor has taken the No. 1 spot with its 2018 vintage in our Chile Top 100 list…The Viña Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto 2018 is all about youth, depth, and energy that unveils the beautiful poise of a top Chilean cabernet sauvignon with its dense but superbly polished tannin and tension, knitting up a full but linear and seamless mouthfeel. It is a wine for the next two decades.”
The vintage is a rare release composed of four varieties, in the tradition of First Growth Bordeaux: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. 2018 shows the expression and complexity of small red fruits and floral notes. On the palate, the wine is full of flavor and elegance, defined by well-integrated tannins and a long, refined finish. The wine has an aging potential of 35 years.
The brand is built upon a base of three fundamental pillars: impeccable heritage, peerless terroir, and winemaking expertise, and is well-known for its artful blending process, an annual collaboration between Don Melchor’s winemaker and general manager Enrique Tirado and expert blender Eric Boissenot of Bordeaux. The duo taste from more than 150 micro-vinifications derived from seven Don Melchor parcels in order to select the final composition. Their goal? To find the truest expression of the Maipo Valley Puente Alto vineyard from which the wine is derived.
“We call our approach the ‘Beauty of the Composition’ to capture the artistry that defines each vintage,” explained Tirado, one of the most influential figures in the national wine industry. “When we start working on the blend, we have not one expression but hundreds of micro-vinifications to consider that collectively represent the distinct flavors, aromas, textures, and color variations of our terroir. Creating the final assemblage of Don Melchor is like painting in many colors and tones to illustrate the beauty of this extraordinary vineyard.
“Don Melchor is the constant quest for the best expression of every vine in the vineyard, so as to capture the beauty of the balance of the Puente Alto terroir,” said Tirado. “This is my true obsession. I use technology as a tool for attaining a deeper understanding, but more than that, watching and touching each plant and each vine is what allows us to attain the perfect balance in each vintage.”