Concho Y Toro’s inexpensive Casillero del Diablo line of wines have shown reasonably well in two previous tastings. In “Tale of the tasting: a pair of $7 white wines shine” Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc 2012 earned a score from the Wine for the Rest of Us Tasting Panel equal to the most expensive wine in the tasting, a $20+ sauvignon blanc from South Africa. In “Tale of the tasting: nice wines finish last” the Casillero del Diablo Merlot 2011 brought up the rear behind three Argentine malbecs (maybe the tasters just prefer malbec to merlot), but with a respectable score that gave only a slight edge to the more expensive wines, with more than half the tasters scoring it three stars on our five-star scale (below or after the jump).
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So it came as no great surprise when Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay 2011 (received as a winery sample) earned a solid 2.69 stars from our 13 tasters. It outpaced the other white, Château Mas Neuf 2010 Rhône Paradox Blanc (2.27 stars), a $13 blend from France’s Rhône Valley that scored 87 points from Wine Enthusiast.
The Casillero del Diablo’s average score from our testers—somewhere between “drinkable” and “I like this”—included one 5-star and two 4-star ratings, while no one gave it a “Yuk.”
“Very drinkable; mild,” wrote one of its fans. Many of our tasters noted a sweetness and ample fruit. “Fresh and fruity,” wrote another taster who awarded it 3 stars. “Pear and apple aromas; nice balanced finish.”
As always, the Wine for the Rest of Us panel tastes all wines double blind—the tasters not only don't know the producer or price (single blind), but also don't know the type of grapes used or place of origin. The tasters also don’t know whether the wines are winery freebies or purchased. They use this five-star rating scale:
* Yuk, where’s the spit bucket?
** Drinkable, but I don’t need another taste, thanks. …
*** I like this, please fill my glass.
**** I love it; I’d buy a bottle if it’s less than $20.
***** This one’s a ringer; what’s this $35 bottle doing at this two-bit tasting?
The Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay is on sale all over town for as little as $6.99 a bottle (Rodman’s and Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits) in the District, $7.99 a bottle in Maryland (Montgomery County Liquor stores and Total Wine) and $8.49 at Total Wine in Virginia.
The favorite of the four wines tasted was one of the two reds, Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (sample), which garnered an average rating of 3.31 stars, compared with just 2.65 stars for a bottle 2009 Bordeaux that we picked up at MacArthur Beverages for $15. Chateau Jouanin Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 2009 earned an average of nearly 88 points from the typically point-stingy members of CellarTracker.com, but our tasters preferred the Chilean cabernet that costs almost half the price.
“Oaky, but good,” wrote one taster who gave the Casillero del Diable 4 stars, noting aromas of cherry. “Oaky note,” agreed another, “best of the four.”
“This was my favorite,” agreed a taster who awarded 3.5 stars. “Dry, smooth; This definitely tastes more expensive than the others.”
But the Casillero del Diablo Cabernet is even more ubiquitously affordable than its white cousin, on sale for the same $6.99 price in the District and $7.99 in Maryland, but costing just $7.99 at Total Wine in Virginia.
These grocery-store wines from Chile’s largest producer are great everyday drinking wines at their typical price of about $9 a bottle. But at stock-up prices as low as $6.99, all of the varieties (particularly the rich, red carmenere, which we’ve yet to taste blind, but regularly earns medals in various wine competitions) are crowd pleasers perfect for the summer party season.
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