Now celebrating 30 years of harvest, Don Melchor is one of the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignons. Winemaker Enrique Tirado tells us why
Enrique Tirado, Don Melchor
This month, we speak to winemaker Enrique Tirado of Chilean winemaking powerhouse Viña Concha y Toro. He heads up production at Don Melchor, the company’s celebrated Cabernet Sauvignon and one of the oldest icon wines of the New World, in the vineyards of Puente Alto. Under his purview, Don Melchor is one of Chile’s foremost and most illustrious labels, consistently winning 90 points and above in Wine Spectator and other noteworthy industry publications.
I’m fascinated by how we can create something new with every vintage.
The winemaking process involves a lot of art and passion on my part to showcase the very best of the Puente Alto vineyard. The most important ingredient is the terroir. We have stony soil, which is very important if you want to make the best quality Cabernet Sauvignon. And we enjoy Mediterranean weather moderated by our close proximity to the Andes mountain, so we experience cool nights and warm days—very contrasting temperatures between day and night.
We also have a very unique parcelling concept that allows us to maintain the complexity, finesse and balance that Don Melchor is known for.
We subdivide the vineyard into many different small parcels of land. Each parcel has the same soil origins, but in some parcels we have stonier soil with bigger stones, and others containing a larger composition of clay and lime. Some parcels also contain more water. This gives us very different root development across the various parcels. In total, we have 127 hectares that are subdivided into 142 parcels.
We harvest and vinify each parcel separately, giving us 100 to 150 different wines from the vineyard.
The idea is to unleash the grapes’ full potential by managing the different harvest times. Then, we taste all the different wines and make the blend over three or four days.
With different aromas, different flavours and different layers, each parcel adds to the final blend.
Each year since Don Melchor’s first vintage in 1987, we’ve worked with the late renowned Bordeaux wine consultant Jacques Boissenot, and now his son Eric, on achieving the perfect final blend.
2017 has been a fantastic year for Don Melchor.
Every year presents a new challenge for us—this year it was in the form of managing the ripening seasons and maintaining the balance of the vineyard in light of the warmer-than-usual year. Nonetheless, I do believe the vintage from this year will be one of the best ones yet.
We’re always working towards the next vintage.
You always need to be looking forward to the next 10 years or more. Right now, we’re renovating the vineyard and looking into the irrigation and pruning systems. We’re also planting new parcels, which we will see the results of in about five years.