Concha y Toro’s Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Tasting

Hello Friends,

I recently had an opportunity to participate in Concha y Toro’s Gran Reserva Serie Riberas interactive webcast tasting on TasteLive. The Gran Reserva Serie Riberas, or “Riverbank Series,” is the latest addition to Concha y Toro’s portfolio and features several single-vineyard estate wines from Chile’s Colchagua Valley (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc) and the Maule Valley (Syrah and Merlot). Each variety in this family of wines is grown in close proximity to one of the region’s major rivers (the Rapel, Cachapoal, the Tinguiririca, and the Maule). Combined with the area’s [maritime] climate and landscape, this produces an ideal winegrowing environment that’s moderated by the influence of the waterways.

 Gran Reserva Serie Riberas 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Our tasting was led by Marcio Ramírez; who has been with Concha y Toro since 1997. Marcio is one of three winemakers on the Gran Reserva Serie Riberas team and is responsible for making Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec – varieties he is very familiar with. Marcio also spent time as assistant winemaker for the label’s well-known Don Melchor premium brand – which is named after the company’s founder, who with his wife founded the Concha y Toro Vineyard in 1883.

  Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Line-up

A little about Chile: While Chile is considered “New World,” its viticulture dates back to the mid-16th century. Chile is a long and narrow country that has ideal geography and conditions for growing (the more desirable) premium vitis vinifera wine grapes. The region is protected on all sides by way of the Andes Mountains, deserts, and oceans. And unlike the majority of wine regions, including the US and France (for example), Chile remains phylloxera free. For this reason, their vineyards can be planted with original rootstock as opposed to being grafted to phylloxera resistant rootstocks.

 Gran Reserva Serie Riberas 2010 Carménère 

In the 1800's, Carménère, a Bordeaux variety, was wiped out of Europe by this grape vine louse -- phylloxera. The grape was thought to be extinct until discovered in Chile in the early 1990’s with the help of DNA. Until then, Chileans thought the grape variety was a clone of Merlot and sold it as such. I’ve been told by Chilean growers that Carménère prefers being grown on its original rootstock and this is why you don’t see it much outside of Chile. Besides Carménère, the region grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc among other varieties. See the four wines we had an opportunity to taste and my notes below. All four selections, in my opinion, are well-made, personality-driven [single-vineyard] wines for every day enjoyment that delivered very good QPR across the board. Buy with confidence and enjoy, my friends.

 Corks Out, Ready to Sip!

1) Gran Reserva 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $15): This wine sports a nice fleshy texture, yet it’s sleek, with crisp and refreshing flavors of lime zest, hay, grass, and grapefruit with mineral undertones. This wine is palate, pocket and food friendly and is a nice wine to have around the house for the price. Click here to find this wine.

2) Gran Reserva 2011 Malbec (SRP $15) Lovely deep color showing black cherry, plum, and sweet tobacco scents with a soft and round, supple texture giving way to a pleasant medium length finish. This is a satisfying and enjoyable wine at the under $20 consumer sweet-spot. Click here to find this wine.

3) Gran Reserva 2010 Carménère (SRP $15): This 2010 Carménère is well-balanced and approachable with inviting aromas of black cherry, plum, violets, dried herbs and a dash of spice with slight leafy tinges towards the back end. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied and savory with a food-friendly nature about it. Nice buy for $15. Click here to find this wine.

4) Gran Reserva 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $15): Smoothly textured palate, delectable tannins with blackberry, ripe plum and cassis aromas/flavors followed by a touch of cocoa powder in the lasting finish. Tasty juice that over delivers for the price. Click here to find this wine.

Click here to visit Concha y Toro's website.

Click here to visit TasteLive; a premiere online wine and beer tasting community.

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come. Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample. Thoughts are my own. Happy Sipping, my friends!

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