Wine to enhance the holiday spirit

Holiday Wine Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Vineyard
Thanksgiving weekend brought some very special wines to our table. These wines will enhance any holiday get together or special occasion. Each wine merits mention on their own and are excellent examples of their varietals and style.

The perfect appetizer goes with is a sparkling wine. Chandon Blanc De Noirs with its sweet and savory flavors is ideal to complement any delectable served before dinner. Chandon uses the red grape varieties of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to create a white sparkling wine. One finds cherry and strawberry on the nose and these same characteristics on the palate. The wine is fruity with a creamy quality at Chandon Blanc De Noirsthe same time.

Looking for a nice sophisticated white wine to complement the first course, the Arrow & Branch 2015 Sauvignon Blanc is quite sensational. With it tropical flavors combining pineapple and citrus in a very Bordeaux styled wine. The aromas are herbaceous with white flowers. There is a nice spice perhaps ginger on the finish. I found a very well balanced wine that partially ages in new and used French Oak.

Arrow & Branch winery owners, Steve, and Seanne Contursi purchased this organic vineyard located in Coombsville in 2007. Their winemaker, Jennifer Williams is one of a group of women in the Napa area that are making a lasting impression on the winemaking business and you can definitely see this as evidence when you sip the Sauvignon Blanc. It is quite apparent that there is a feminine quality to this wine. Perhaps it is the subtle nuances of sweetness in the wine that bring the feminine spirit forward.

The name Arrow & Branch pays homage to the Contursi family business, Arrow and Branch Sauvignon Blancnumismatics, the study or collection of coins, dollars, and other related objects. The logo comes from one of Steven’s famous coin discoveries, the first silver dollar created in the United States that bears an eagle holding an olive branch and arrows in its talons. For the Contursi’s this represents not only their business acumen our wonderful country because, “The olive branch signifies the United States as a peace-loving nation, while the arrow portrays the country’s ability to defend itself if that peace or freedom should ever be compromised.”

Finally, the wine that really wowed us was the Don Melchor 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Vineyard. Since 2013 when I first discovered this Chilean winery at a vertical tasting luncheon showcasing wines spanning from 1989 to 2009. It was here that I met the soft-spoken winemaker Enrique Tirado, who has been the enologist with Don Melchor since 1997.

For Enrique Tirado, “ Don Melchor’s style captures the complexity and finesse expressed through the perfect balance of the stony Puente Alto soil, the Andean breeze, the generous Maipo Valley climate, and the twenty-Five plus years the vines have taken to produce their best grapes.”

Don Melchor is a part of Concha y Toro, which was established in 1883 by Don Melchor de Santiago Concha y Toro when he brought grape varietals from the Bordeaux region of France to Chile. Those varietals included Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Merlot, and Carmenère.

It was in 1986 that the reigning chairman of Concha y Toro, Eduardo Guilisasti Tagle decided to send his son and the winery’s enologist to France to meet with Emile Paynaud, who is considered the father of modern winemaking in Bordeaux to show off the quality Cabernet Sauvignon from the Puente Alto Terroir in the Maipo Valley. A partnership was formed with Jacques Boissenot to create the wines known under the Don Melchor label. The first vintage of this winery was in 1987.

The Puente Alto Vineyard is located south of Santiago at the foot of the Andes Mountains on the north bank of the Maipo River. The area is made up of three terraces. Although the area is known for its volcanic soils, the soil of the third terrace is more complex giving the wine more intensity and texture. The soil is a combination of clay, sand and limestone. This combined with the cool breezes that come down from the Andes create the essence of all the Cabernet Sauvignons produced by Enrique Tirado at Don Melchor.

The wine speaks for itself with aromas of currants, black cherry, vanilla, and cardamom. Find flavors of plum, blackberry, vanilla, and stewed fruit. The wine is bright and smoothly balanced. It is earthy exuding its dark fruits yet rich and velvety in texture. The wine ages in 15 months in French oak barrels that includes 71% new oak.

I think what impressed me in 2013 and again now are the ever-present qualities of the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, which include smoothness, balance, well-integration, and consistency.

Any of these wines would add a nice dimension to your holiday gathering although both the Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon are wines that lend themselves to a more intimate setting.