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The Story

In 1996 we decided to tackle the challenge of making our first ultra premium wine; the chosen variety was Pinot Noir and for its inaugural production we set apart 20 barrels of the best fruit the `96 vintage had provided.


This exquisite range’s name was coined after those 20 initial barrels. Pinot Noir was followed by Cabernet Sauvignon in 1997, Merlot in 1998, Chardonnay – Cono Sur’s first ultra-premium white wine – in 2002, Sauvignon Blanc in 2005, and the latest member of the family, a Syrah from the 2008 harvest.

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Written Notes

I only tasted one Chardonnay this time, the 2015 20 Barrels Chardonnay, produced with selected grapes from their Fundo El Centinela estate in Casablanca, a cooler place with temperatures three degrees below the rest of the valley. The vines were planted 12 years ago on red clay and granite soils some seven kilometers from the ocean. The whole clusters were pressed in a pneumatic press, the juice decanted for 48 hours and put to ferment in new French oak barrels for 25 days with neutral yeasts. It didn't go through malolactic and was kept in barrel for eight months, but 25% of the volume was transferred to egg-shaped concrete vats for its élevage. It's a classical barrel-fermented Chardonnay with plenty of spicy and smoky aromas and hints of nuts. It has the toasty profile of the François Frères barrels they use in a large proportion, and this is coupled with some leesy aromas as the part of the wine that is in barrel is kept with the lees, which are stirred weekly. The palate combines volume with freshness, with a dry finish. For my taste there is a little too much oak here, relatively speaking, as this is a far cry from the oaky wines produced in Chile six or seven years ago. 6,000 bottles were filled in December 2015.

Cono Sur is another success story from Concha y Toro. Here the focus was Pinot Noir and other cool climate varieties, but their portfolio now includes Syrah from Limarí and Cabernet from Maipo. They own 1.358 hectares of vineyards from Limarí to Bio-Bio, but they have at their disposal the over 9,000 vineyards owned by the mother company in nine different valleys of Chile. The ranges are, in increasing order of ambition and price, Bicicleta (of which I didn't taste anything), Reserva Especial, Single Vineyard and 20 Barrels. The annual output is 30 million bottles. The quality is remarkably good, and the prices are very attractive.

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Maipo, Colchagua

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