Concha y Toro Xplorador Chardonnay 2010 (Chile)
Last week I spent some time in Indianapolis for a conference where they served this Chilean beauty! Latin American wines are fairly new to me and I am really excited to see their popularity rising in the area. I recently discovered that the growing conditions in Chile are quite ideal. The Andes Mountains provide a natural barrier protecting the delicate grapes, yet still allow a nice pacific breeze. The soil is perfectly balanced; the water is very clean and the different valleys, at varying altitudes, allow for a wide variety.
When people think of Chilean wines, the name Concha y Toro often comes to mind. In 1963 it became Chile’s first global market wine. With sales topping 2 million cases, it has been the leading winery in Latin America since 2003. Concha y Toro has also been named one of the fifteen largest wine businesses in the world. And, without one man's vision, none of this would have been possible. Don Melchor Concha y Toro was a local politician and businessman whose passion for Chile’s economy drove him to start the vineyard in 1883. It was then that he traveled to the renowned wine region of Bordeaux and purchased French vines. To go along with this purchase, Melchor hired a French Enologist (specialist in wine making) to help get the winery started on the right foot. The winery quickly became his most successful business and continues to flourish to this day.
Xplorador Chardonnay, named for the life and journey of a winemaker, is from the central valley of Chile, which is nestled between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. Chardonnay originated from Burgundy, France and is a medium bodied white wine. It can take on many styles, but the most common differences are noticed in the types of barrels and fermentation choices.
Most chardonnays I have experience with have been aged in oak barrels and utilized malolactic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation occurs when a bacteria is introduced to the wine after primary fermentation. This bacterium converts tart-tasting malic acid to softer-tasting lactic acid. This lactic acid is what gives some chardonnays that buttery flavor and fuller mouth feel.
The other treatment of chardonnay is seen in the Xplorador I tried. This wine didn’t use malolactic fermentation and it is obvious in its tart green apple flavor. It was also was aged in steel tanks for 2 months. This allows for control on oxygen, which can affect the wine style.
This wine was assuredly enjoyable -- especially on the hot evening I tried it. There was a nice crisp, fresh feel to it. The green apple aroma was present from the lactic acid and I caught some soft tropical flavors as well. I will say it is kind of quiet for a medium bodied wine, but I didn’t mind. For it’s price range, it truly is wonderful!
I would suggest this wine to someone who typically drinks lighter style whites such as a sauvignon blanc. I think the semi-tropical nature of this wine easily relates and would be an easy introduction to fuller bodied white wines. It has been said that growing Chardonnay is like a rite of passage for vintners. And for Concha y Toro, it has been something that I feel they have done quite well.
Vintner: Concha y Toro
Location: Central Valley, Chile
Description: Medium Bodied White
What I paid: $5.50 a glass
Photo by Tony Frantz