From Too Many Chefs -

September 1, 2004
Worldwide Wine-Blogging Wednesday I

Waaaaaay back on July 27th, Lenndevours proposed that, as with the now famous Is My Blog Burning? event, we get together and all do something the same day. Lenndevours's idea was not to cook a dish with a common theme, but to try a wine and write about it.

There have to be rules for these things, and the first WWWBW prescribed that the wine be a cheap inexpensive one - under US$15, and that it be a Merlot from the New World, BUT not from the United States.

I am not a wine expert by any stretch of the imagination though I have sampled a good bottle or three thanks to oenophile friends (ahem, Meg). I took this opportunity to stretch my descriptinve capabilities and my wine drinking experience by sampling a Chilean wine.

But not just any Chilean wine would do, my friends. This $8.99 wine I chose would come from World Market's House O' Wicker the Devil's Cassette Tape Player!

At least that's how I translate Casillero del Diablo by Concha y Toro. Of course, I once translated a dish on a Spanish menu as "owl with thistle", so I wouldn't trust my Spanish if I were you. I'm sure a true Spanish-speaker (ahem, Paul) will correct me.

The wine, which as I stated before, is Casillero del Diablo by Concha y Toro ("the conch shell and the lawnmower"), which comes from the Rapel Valley of Chile, near the Pacific Coast. Of course, pretty much all of Chile is near the Pacific Coast. I might as well say it's near Argentina.

Did I mention the Rapel Valley is near Argentina, as well? It's all clear if you look at this map from a Dutch site that locates wine producing regions throughout the world.

The bottle sampled was a 2003, very young. My first impression when I sniffed the wine (sorry, "sampled its bouquet") was that there was a lot of alcohol in this sucker. I think that is the mark of an immature wine, and this one qualifies. The other notes were scents of cherry, apple, and even raspberry.

The color was a very rich ruby red, that shifted towards garnet when held to the light.

The flavor was very tart with lots of tannic apple and cherry, and for lack of a better name, "purple" flavor, like Concord grape juice. As you might expect for a young Chilean red under $9, it was rather wild, slightly harsh and immature, like a Beaujolais in Miami beach on a spree with her daddy's credit cards.

I'd pair this with spicy foods with substance, like a peppercorned steak or fajitas. It might go well with salty foods with a serious bass note to them (as in rich and low, not as in fishy) like a mushroom gravy or dark meat turkey or liver.

I found tasting notes for the wine and I have to wonder if they drank the same thing I did. One site claims Atttractive scents of black plums and a delicately herbal aroma make this a most attractive wine. The fruity flavour is mout filling and smooth with hints of chocolate and spice. Great with bistro food and risotto.

Yeah. First, what's a "mout"? I tried this wine, and there ain't no plum in there and this CERTAINLY isn't a wine I'd pair with a delicate risotto. Maybe a hearty salty rice dish, but that's not what I think of when I think of a nice risotto. Maybe with all-beef hot dogs (David Berg, of course).

The Wine Spectator (scroll down) gives it an 86 and says "Nice red and dark berry fruit with toast and bramble hints, and a smooth, chocolaty finish. Open-knit, forward and tasty. Drink now. 120,000 cases made. (JM)"

Maybe this is why I'm not a wine critic. I just didn't taste the chocolate finish that both these notes mention. And what the heck does a bramble taste like? Does that help anyone imagine the taste of this bottle? I'm seriously curious.

I would have thought putting this away for a year would help it mellow out, but the Spectator critic says gulp it down now. Hmph. I don't think I'll go back to this wine again, though now I'm very curious about the chocolate I didn't taste. It is only $9...

You can learn all about the Cassillero del Diablo line (ahh, it means "Cellar of the Devil") at their sound-filled Flash-laden website from Hell (no pun intended)!

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at September 1, 2004 12:17 AM | TrackBack

How many glasses did you have before you wrote that post? Very funny stuff.

What an awful flash site. Why do European (and those who aspire to be European, like the Chilean) so love flash sites? It's the internet equivalent of Eurotrash fashion.

I'm surprised that Casillero is translated as "cellar." I think the probably mean bin. I've also heard the word used to describe those little mail boxes in college departments. Bodega is the normal word for cellar (at least in Spain).

Posted by Todd on September 1, 2004 at 10:25 PM

We drank this MANY times during our honeymoon, because it was cheap and available (we were in Costa Rica). I'm not crazy about the stuff, but it will do in a pinch. Barrett, if you get a chance, you should post the text from the label, which says a little more about the "casillero" business, although it's not going to clear up Todd's concerns, I don't think.

Posted by paul on September 1, 2004 at 11:53 PM

"And what the heck does a bramble taste like? Does that help anyone imagine the taste of this bottle?"

Absolutely. Funny that WS uses that term; it's one I often use and everyone is surprised by it. I don't know where I got it from, but I typically dislike wines that show that character (which means that I'm on the outs with the Cabernet Sauvignon crowd, since that grape exhibits it a lot). It's a certain thorny plantiness to my mind. I've heard some describe the same aroma as green bell pepper, a descriptor I use more often now since it's easier for people to understand, and I can agree with it as a description.

Posted by Derrick Schneider on September 2, 2004 at 12:23 AM

Thanks for participating in WWWBW! Sorry your wine wasn't all it was cracked up to be, but I think we've all had that experience.

As for the 'pro' tasting notes you have there...I've always thought that they were BS a good bit of the time. And I've even written some on a local paper and I just can't let myself write that drivel. I try to stick to terms that people actually know and will recognize.

Bramble schmamble!

Posted by Lenn on September 2, 2004 at 1:58 PM

I've had good Chileans (we had one at Paul's place once, I remember), but this wasn't one. I really think a year or two in the box might take the edge off and mellow the wine to the point where it'll be really nice.

I will try their Cab Sauv since that seems more suited to their methods.

Posted by barrett on September 2, 2004 at 2:49 PM

Oddly, the Ben Gilberti article in the Post that you mention in your Food Section Digestion notes that Chilean wines have gained a reputation for varying greatly from bottle to bottle, and occasionally just tasting nasty. Perhaps that explains the difference between what you tasted and what others have described?

Posted by Sweth on September 2, 2004 at 3:46 PM

Sweth, I think that's entirely possible. I mentioned it only being $9 because I didn't hate it, I just thought it was too harsh. Maybe I'll give it a second shot next time I go to the world o' wicker.

Posted by barrett on September 2, 2004 at 3:57 PM

Have some bottles Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 and 2000 and the wine ages very well.
Casillero translates as bin and Diablo as Devil.

Posted by Bob on June 18, 2006 at 10:50 PM

what is chenna??

Posted by federica on January 23, 2008 at 5:48 PM