Recently I had a very interesting opportunity to blind taste som Chilean wines from the winery Casillero del Diablo. Sommelier of Concho y Toro, Massimo Leonori was in town to showcase the 2018 wines, which are deemed an “Extraordinary Vintage.”

Massimo is a Master of Senses, and he took us through a “challenge of senses,” where we sampled the different wines from Casillero del Diablo and explored why this “Extraordinary Vintage” is so different than the others. In Chile’s Maipo Valley, the 2017-2018 season had unbeatable climatic conditions that resulted in this Extraordinary Vintage. What’s nice was that we had the chance to go through all of the aromas first, smelling fruits like cherry, plum, and raspberry, along with some other flavors and aromas you will find in these wines.

We tasted the 2018 Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere. Did you know Cabernet is the most widely planted grape in Chile? It grows really well here, and Chilean Cabernet is a wonderful option if you enjoy big reds with nice black pepper and black fruit notes. I loved this Cabernet because I know it is easy to drink and pairs beautifully with fall root vegetables and stews!

I also happen to really enjoy Carmenere as a whole, because its intense, spicy, and layered. The 2018 was full of ripe red fruit, black pepper, and raspberry. On the palate it’s smooth and has nice depth, with a new world fruity finish.

The Pinot Noir was also a top contender in this tasting. I find Chilean Pinot Noir to be very appealing because I enjoy warm climate Pinot’s. I like that it’s bright and full of cherry, plum, and has a touch of fig on the nose. On the palate this 2018 is vibrant with some nice subtle spice, and a lingering finish.

These wines are great for summer, don’t let their intensity fool you. I happen to enjoy Chilean reds much more this time of year, when the summer begins to end and we start enjoying the cooler evenings. Pair these wines with a number of dishes including steak, burgers, salmon, and cheese. They make a great option to bring to a party, because these wines are very budget-friendly for high quality, which is important when choosing a great host/hostess gift!

Always remember, eat what you like and drink what you love. Please pair responsibly.