Wine Review of 2016 Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Chardonnay from Chile’s Central Valley
Concha y Toro’s Casillero del Diablo Brand is a worldwide phenomenon that’s been going on for a few decades already.
The wine is famous and known for offering an excellent quality price ratio (more info on that further down below the tasting notes).
But what is the Chardonnay worth? And are you likely to enjoy it if you do happen to buy one?
If you’re just wondering about the purchase price, know that you should find Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay between $10 and $15 in the US, £8 and £12 in the UK, or €7-10 in Europe. An affordable wine it is!
Now a point of clarification: every bottle of Casillero del Diablo now comes with the mention ‘Reserva’ on the label — Spanish for ‘Reserve’ obviously—. So, no, if you’ve bought the Reserve Chardonnay thinking you got the ‘special wine’ at the price of the standard one, you’ve actually purchased the normal one. Concha y Toro having upgraded a few years ago all the range to Reserva to make it look more ‘Premium’ —the joys of marketing in wine—.
But that doesn’t mean you’ve got ripped off, or that the wine is at all bad!
So, let’s find out: How Good (or Bad) it Really Tastes?
My Full Tasting Notes
This white wine comes in a bright and shiny lemon-yellow color of medium intensity. Yet, some gold hues make it look clear and vibrant.
The nose feels ripe and generous, as opposed to some Chardonnay wines that can smell grassier. This is dominated by tropical notes of pineapple and ripe mango, as well as somewhat heavy and catching persimmon notes.
Some vanilla and wood smoke betray the use of oak in the winemaking, but in all fairness they are discrete and well-integrated. They simply add roundness and generosity, and a somewhat expected oaky buttery feel to this Chardonnay.
The palate is dry yet opulent, with an oily texture making it easy-to-sip. The tropical flavors are bursting with intensity, coconut and mango leading, with some dried banana and lemon peel following.
Hints of spicy nutmeg and white pepper, acacia honey and beeswax add layers of depth, especially to a fairly long and waxy finish.
The Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay certainly offers plenty of sensations for the money, and it’s hard to imagine or argue that you could get more concentration and layers of flavors out of any other wine in that price category.
Ripe in flavors, clearly on the tropical side, textural with an opulent oily body, dry and balanced, it positions itself as an enjoyable drink for most palates. Those who loves a generous and opulent Chardonnay, and even those in search of an approachable one.
The classic notes of butter and vanilla are there, yet they are not overwhelming or heavy. All the codes of a good Chardonnay are gathered in this Casillero del Diablo.
No wonder this is a global success. It is certainly a good wine…
Certainly this is a mass-produced wine. But this can actually turn out to be an advantage when it’s well made, bringing solid standards of quality at a very affordable price. As far as I’m concerned, it is the case for me here!
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Some Background Info about Casillero del Diablo Brand
Casillero del Diablo (understand ‘the Devil’s Cellar’ in Spanish) is owned by the biggest wine producer and company in the world, by a large margin: Concha y Toro.
The company in fact could be the fifth largest wine company in the world not far behind giants such as E.J. Gallo or Constellations Brands (source https://www.bkwine.com/news/worlds-10-biggest-wine-producers/ ).
Concha y Toro runs a staggering over 10+K hectares of vineyards (25+K acres).
The group’s wineries produce an annual output of about 42 million bottles, a third of which are shipped to the UK.
This is not all Chardonnay obviously. Casillero del Diablo comes in several varietals, including the iconic Cabernet Sauvignon, but also Merlot, Carménère, or Pinot Noir as reds, or Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites.
About Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay Wine
Casillero de Diablo Chardonnay comes from vineyards located just a few kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. Constant sea breezes moderate the temperatures and result in remarkably fresh wines. The soils in the Limarí Valley lend an elegant mineral touch to the Chardonnay, while Casablanca contributes fruit flavors, such as peaches.
So the wine is a blend from various Chilean regions, namely Casablanca, Limarí and Rapel valleys, mainly grown on alluvial soils with some colluvial soils.
The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in French oak barrels.