100 PTS - James Suckling
Don Melchor 2018 is a wine that highlights the expression of the fruit and the quality of textures achieved by the Don Melchor vineyard. This vintage displays a remarkable presence of red fruits and a clear expression of the Puente Alto Cabernet Sauvignon, with fine, delicate tannins that give the wine great elegance and density, different layers of aromas and flavors, very smooth, elegant tannins, and a long, persistent finish. The wine manages to produce that unique sensation you only get from great wines and great harvests.
Varietal Composition: 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot
This is amazing. The vibrancy and energy in this wine is stunning. The complexity of aromas are breathtaking with flowers, blackcurrants, raspberries and peaches. Full-bodied, yet ever so refined and polished with impeccable texture and beauty. The length is marvelous. This is a testimony to balance, harmony and transparency in a great red. Drink after 2023.
Long produced from its own 314-acre vineyard, a prime site on the third alluvial terrace above the north bank of the Maipo River, Don Melchor is now established in its own estate winery. Enrique Tirado, who started making Don Melchor in 1997, considers the 2018 season one of the most vine-friendly he has worked, with plenty of rain in winter, optimal weather during flowering, no heat spikes in summer and cool nights through harvest. The fruit of the vines shows the freshness of the season, as well as the ripeness, allowing Tirado and consultant Eric Boissenot to include both early ripening merlot and late-ripening petit verdot in this 2018 (in most years, they limit the blend to cabernets sauvignon and franc). The purity of that fruit is completely Andean—neither green nor dimpled, but precisely tuned in both the flavor and texture of its tannins. The wine has a quiet, gracious power, reflecting its Chilean character (there’s nothing either bold or austere about it; this is a wine of a place, without cabernet preconceptions). Its black currant and tart red cherry flavors have the crunch of walking through Andean snow, even as the sunniness of the fruit is cool, not at all cold, leaving a gracious impression. Great Andean cabernet has the capacity to age and develop for decades. If you’ve never invested in Chilean wine, this is the place to start.
I tasted two vintages of the top Cabernet Sauvignon, and even if the two years were quite different, the wines showed very good regularity. My preference was for the 2018 Don Melchor, from a cooler and rainier vintage that produced a very complete and balanced wine with the aid of 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. It has power and finesse, integrated 14% alcohol and a classical profile with the ingredients to develop nicely in bottle. It's tasty and has polished tannins. 156,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in December 2019 and early January 2020.
Powerful and well-structured, with vibrant acidity backing a lively blend of dark fruit and fresh-crushed cooking spice flavors. Cedary and savory notes in the midpalate, with a long finish filled with underbrush accents. Drink now through 2027.