5 Questions with Winemaker Enrique Tirado

A sneak-peak at our impending issue of Wine Journal available in May.

Enrique Tirado is the winemaker for Concha y Toro Don Melchor wines from Chile.

Enrique Tirado - Don Melchor Winemaker 2 (002).jpgWhat is it about the Puente Alto terroir that seems to yield incredible Cabs?

Its stony alluvial soil is poor in nutrients and produces well-balanced plants and grapes with concentrated colors and tannins that give rise to expressive, full-bodied wines with ripe tannins and good balance.

The Andes also play an important role because they not only influence the soils, but the weather as well. Puente Alto has a warm, dry Mediterranean climate with hot and sunny summer days, but because it is very close to the mountains, it benefits from the moderating effects of the Andes, which helps prevent excessive heat during the day and causes the temperatures to drop dramatically at night. This results in a broad difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures, which helps the grapes ripen well and thoroughly with deep color while maintaining good acidity, all of which is expressed as vibrant, juicy and refreshing wines.

Cabernet Sauvignons from Puente Alto are known for their ample aromatic complexity and expression of fresh red fruit with mineral notes recalling pencil lead. They are extremely well balanced on the palate with refined tannins, good concentration, and fresh-fruit character with a long and lingering finish.

What does Eric Boissenot bring to the blending process to elevate the wine?

Eric Boissenot and his father Jacques before him have participated in every vintage of Don Melchor and their expertise has greatly contributed to making this a great Chilean wine.

Jacque Boissenot was recommended by Émile Peynaud, the Frenchman considered the father of modern winemaking, to help Concha y Toro blend the inaugural vintage of Don Melchor in 1987, and the results were so satisfying for all, that he came to Chile every year for a decade to help us coax the very best from our Puente Alto vineyards and determine the final blend.

Jacques passed away in 2014, and his son Eric is now our ally and consultant in this endeavor—except that now I am the one who does the traveling. Every year I take all the samples to Lamarque, a small village in the Médoc where his laboratory is located and where we sit down to taste the wines and decide on the final blend.

Every year we taste more than 150 samples of free-run and press wines from different blocks of the vineyard that had been vinified separately. At the end of three days or so we reached the final blend.

Don Melchor Vineyard in Puente Alto 02.jpgHow do you plan to continue to improve an already renowned wine?

Making Don Melchor is a never-ending quest for the truest expression of every vine in the vineyard and the Puente Alto terroir, and we strive to come even closer with every vintage.

Although Don Melchor was Chile’s first icon wine, its success didn’t stop there. It has a strong history, but we feel it has an even stronger future. We continue to investigate and explore ways to fine-tune its already excellent characteristics to ensure that it remains a faithful expression of the incredible Puente Alto terroir and Chile’s foremost icon wine.

What contributes to the long gaining potential of Don Melchor?

Don Melchor’s great aging potential is directly related to its unique origin in a specific and identifiable geographic location. This very valuable terroir results in a wine with excellent acidity, firm tannins, and its own unique, recognizable and inimitable personality and an expression that evolves and develop extraordinarily well over the years.

Don Melchor 2013 .jpgFavorite pairing with Don Melchor?

Being a Cabernet Sauvignon with good acidity and soft tannins, it pairs well with different preparations of beef, such as sirloin steak, roast beef, braises, and stews in red wine such as beef bourguignon. It is also excellent with game meats, lamb, duck breast, and even pasta dishes with meat-based sauces. And because Don Melchor has all the elegance of a fine Bordeaux, it pairs extremely well with classic French cuisine. I also love it with assorted dry, aged cheeses, whether cow’s milk (Gruyere, Comté, Tomme de Savoie, Parmesan, Cantal) or sheep’s milk (Manchego), as well as creamy cheeses such as Camembert, Brie or Explorateur.

Buy a bottle of Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon onlineDon Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon online or at your local ABC Fine Wine & Spirits today. Plus, enter for a chance to see Manchester United play at Old Trafford, courtesy of Concha Y Toro!

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