EX­QUIS­ITE WINE PAIR­ING

Nes­tled at the foot of the im­pos­ing An­des Moun­tains dis­cover Viña Con­cha y Toro's Puente Alto vine­yard, the home of Chile's most cel­e­brated Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon – Don Mel­chor.

Exquisite Taste - - Contents - By Amanda Lux­ford

We talk to Is­abel Mi­tarakis Guil­isasti, co-wine­maker of the out­stand­ing Don Mel­chor wine from Chile’s Con­cho Y Toro, about wine­mak­ing and why Don Mel­chor wine is so spe­cial.

Don Mel­chor is an iconic wine for Chile, cre­ated with painstak­ing hard work and great skill by a team led by wine­maker En­rique Ti­rado and his cowine­maker Is­abel Mi­tarakis Guil­isasti. The first Don Mel­chor vin­tage was in 1987 and, over the years, it has won many ac­co­lades. Viña Con­cha y Toro's ded­i­ca­tion to tend­ing its vines specif­i­cally by block, with each block de­vel­op­ing its own spe­cific char­ac­ter, and the sub­se­quent care­ful blend­ing, among other fac­tors, has re­sulted in Don Mel­chor wine con­sis­tently mak­ing Wine Spec­ta­tor's Top 100 Wines of the World list, with the 2001, 2003 and 2010 vin­tages all mak­ing the Top 10.

The cur­rent 2014 vin­tage has been dis­tin­guished as the Best Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon in the most re­cent re­port on Chile in Robert Parker's The Wine Ad­vo­cate, which praised the 2014 Don Mel­chor for “com­bin­ing power with el­e­gance” and for its “re­fined tan­nins and su­perb bal­ance”, while Wine Spec­ta­tor gave it 96 points, the high­est score for a Chilean wine to date, and placed it on the col­lectible wines of the year list.

The wine's style, com­plex­ity and el­e­gance de­rives from the per­fect bal­ance be­tween rocky soils in Puente Alto, the cold winds from the An­des Moun­tains, the age of the vines, which are now yield­ing their finest grapes, and the painstak­ing work of the Don Mel­chor team.

Don Mel­chor, Chile's first iconic wine, has es­tab­lished the Puente Alto ter­roir as one of the best on the planet for Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon and has con­firmed this wine as one of the best rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon in Chile, and in­deed, the world.

Ex­quis­ite Taste was de­lighted to talk to Is­abel when she vis­ited Bali to host a ver­ti­cal Don Mel­chor wine din­ner at W

Bali – Seminyak to in­tro­duce this iconic and pres­ti­gious wine to the is­land's con­nois­seurs.

: You must be very proud of the recog­ni­tion the 2014 Don Mel­chor is re­ceiv­ing. Can you tell us a lit­tle about what you think is so spe­cial about this par­tic­u­lar vin­tage?

Is­abel: It's a su­perbly bal­anced wine from a cold vin­tage with very gen­tle tan­nins, but at the same time it has the fresh fruit ex­pres­sion of a warm vin­tage. It shows great lay­er­ing, start­ing with re­ally fresh red fruit, fol­lowed by the min­er­al­ity of the aro­mas. In the mouth it tastes very soft and round and is very fresh at the end of mouth.

: You’ve brought four Don Mel­chor vin­tages to Bali. Could you tell us some­thing about these vin­tages, and which is your favourite?

I: What is im­por­tant with Don Mel­chor wine is the cli­mate con­di­tion as it im­pacts heav­ily on the char­ac­ter of the grapes and thus that of the wine. We re­spect each year's con­di­tions and work with them to show­case the best po­ten­tial of that year's caber­net grapes in Puento Alto; we don't try to make the same

wine year af­ter year. The 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2012 that we are drink­ing this evening show the range of our wine. The 2009 comes from the warm­est vin­tage in the his­tory of Don Mel­chor and has a very dif­fer­ent pro­file from those from colder vin­tages, while the 2011, for ex­am­ple, was a cold vin­tage that gave us very dif­fer­ent grapes.

My per­sonal favourite de­pends on the mo­ment and who I am with, but at this time, I pre­fer vin­tages from cool sea­sons, like the 2010, 2011 and 2014, be­cause I like the very round, smooth tan­nins. I think for the In­done­sian peo­ple and the kind of food that they have, the colder vin­tages are per­haps a bet­ter choice.

: You started with Con­cha Y Toro in 2011 and moved to Don Mel­chor in 2013. What do you most en­joy about your work with Don Mel­chor?

I: Don Mel­chor is like a win­ery within a win­ery and our team han­dles ev­ery­thing, from be­gin­ning to end. Work­ing in the vine­yard gives you a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how to man­age it to get the best wines. We tend the grapes while they grow, then har­vest and vinify those same grapes. We are re­spon­si­ble for the en­tire process, in­clud­ing main­tain­ing the qual­ity and max­imis­ing that po­ten­tial ev­ery year. We are re­ally fo­cused on one wine, so you con­cen­trate harder and learn more about the vari­ables; I think this is one of the rea­sons why Don Mel­chor wine is so spe­cial. It's very hard work, but I re­ally en­joy it.

: You have a de­gree in agron­omy, spe­cial­is­ing in oenol­ogy. How do you think your ed­u­ca­tion most ben­e­fits your work? I: My fam­ily has a vine­yard and I grew up around the grapes and lis­ten­ing to ev­ery­one talk about the dif­fer­ent as­pects of grape­grow­ing and wine­mak­ing. When I had to choose a ca­reer, agron­omy was very nat­u­ral for me. I chose to spe­cialise in oenol­ogy, be­cause I be­lieve it is very im­por­tant to un­der­stand how to make wine, so you can prop­erly man­age the vine­yard. If you don't know what your ul­ti­mate goal is – in this case wine – then you can't man­age the ear­lier stages in the same way.

: Would you share with our read­ers one of your mem­o­rable mo­ments in the wine in­dus­try?

I: One year, I was har­vest­ing at Château Mou­ton Roth­schild and Baroness Philip­pine de Roth­schild in­vited me to lunch at her house. We talked a lot about wine she told me that for her, ev­ery vin­tage of wine is a work of art. There is a lot of sci­ence around wine­mak­ing, but there is great cre­ativ­ity too; you have to paint a new mas­ter­piece ev­ery year. That idea has stuck with me and been a great in­flu­ence.

To fully show­case these out­stand­ing vin­tages, W Bali – Seminyak pre­sented wine lovers with an as­tound­ing wine pair­ing din­ner at FIRE. The six-course ex­trav­a­ganza de­lighted the guests and showed re­mark­able skill in the pair­ings. Of par­tic­u­lar note was the roasted foie gras udon in duck con­sommé paired with the 2012 vin­tage. The wine showed a beau­ti­ful bal­ance be­tween fresh­ness and tan­nins that was sub­lime with the meaty flavour of this sur­pris­ingly light dish. The duo of Aus­tralian lamb was a splen­did meld­ing with the ro­bust 2009 vin­tage, while the im­pres­sive fresh fruit ex­pres­sion, abun­dant aro­mas and flavours, along with the high con­cen­tra­tion of very fine tan­nins of the 2011 were a per­fect match for the gen­er­ous se­lec­tion of AOC cheeses.

The 2014 Don Mel­chor is cur­rently be­ing pre­pared for ship­ping and will soon be avail­able in Indonesia at Vin+ shops. We highly rec­om­mend those who love the finer things in life place their or­ders soon!

Is­abel Mi­tarakis Guil­isasti

Is­abel Mi­tarakis Guil­isasti

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