Imagine sitting down to dinner with a national artist, a Chilean gentleman, and a bottle of wine that comes from the devil’s cellar. It’s a scene straight out of a South American novel dripping thick with romanticism and mystical overtures. It’s not a dinner in South America though, nor is it a scene from a Latin novel. In fact, it’s at a table in Manila where people have gathered to taste the fine wines of an internationally-acclaimed Chilean winery called Concha y Toro.
Casillero del Diablo
Concha Y Toro is a winery whose heritage dates back to 1883 when a man named Melchor Concha y Toro planted the first grapevines imported from Bordeaux. Melchor was not an ordinary man in Chile, he was a renowned lawyer, a senator, and a finance minister in his time.
Mr. Mario Aguado, Commercial Manager of Vina Concha y Toro for Asia Pacific
One can imagine that he used his knowledge and his taste for fine wine to build a wine business that was poised to be recognized internationally from the very beginning. And, this is exactly what happened, Concha y Toro is a wine company that is distributed in over 142 countries worldwide, exporting 3.7 million cases of premium wines annually with an estimated value of 200 million US dollars. Concha y Toro’s international reach and popularity is a testament to the quality of the product that was started by just one man.
Grilled US Striploin
Today, Concha y Toro is recognized as the first winery to sponsor a professional soccer team, being the official partner and sponsor of the wildly popular football club, Manchester United. A perfect union in the eyes of Concha y Toro because of Manchester United’s nickname being “the Red Devils” and of course Concha y Toro being referred to as Casillero Del Diablo – the devil’s cellar.
Grilled Vegetable Antipasto
The reference to the devil and its association with the winery is not by accident. In fact, the story goes back a hundred years right to the very man who started it all. Back in his day, Melchor Concha y Toro had the singular distinction of owning one of the best wine collections in all of Chile. With this privilege came the complications that any collection of fine wines would bring, thieves from nearby town regularly broke into his cellar to pilfer the bottles of his most prized wines.
Poached Seabream in Coconut Milk
After trying everything he could think of to stop the looting, Melchor hit upon the genius idea of spreading the rumour that his cellar is the abode of the devil himself. One can only imagine the reaction of the people when they first heard this story, some probably scoffed at the idea and some might have even snickered. Although, whatever their initial reaction might have been, nobody wanted to mess around in a dark cellar where there was a chance of bumping into somebody whose business it was to cast people into lakes of fire. Thus, Melchor preserved his wines in a cellar that, once and for all, have been known as the Casillero Del Diablo.
We sat down to dinner at the Chateau 1771 in Greenbelt 5 in Makati, a long way from Chile or from the fires of the underworld, I admit, though just as fiery and imbued with Latin spirit. Our host for the evening was Mr. Mario Aguado, the Commercial Manager of Vina Concha y Toro for Asia Pacific.
Coffee after Meal
He started the evening by opening bottles of some of the best wines that Concha y Toro is offering in the Philippines. I have to admit, it made the evening flow just a little bit better and it was the perfect introduction to the incredible dinner that followed. Before the meal, we had the chance to hear about the history of the winery and also their prospects for the future.
More importantly, we were fortunate to get a taste of their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and my much favoured Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay. Of course, there were many other wines on the table that accompanied Chateau 1771’s poached seabream and grilled striploin but I leave it up to you to discover your own preferences.
There is absolutely nothing wicked about enjoying a bottle of fine wine with some of the most guilt-inducing food on a dinner table, not even when the wine comes from the legendary Casillero Del Diablo!