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Concha y Toro Late Harvest Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (2008)

Review: Concha y Toro Late Harvest Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (2008)   87.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted September 12, 2013

When the wine industry in Chile was just beginning to get its feet underneath itself in 1883, Don Melchor, a local businesman and politico imported vines from the Bordeaux region of France and began to plant them in the Maipo Valley of Pirque in Chile. These first grapevines from France served as the foundation for what was to become Viña Concha y Toro. The company was incorporated by Don Melchor’s son, Juan Enrique Concha Subercaseaux, who became General Manager in 1892. One hundred years later in 1994, the company became the first Winery to have its shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange in a share offering that raised $53 million dollars to fund the companies ongoing expansion and technological upgrading. Today the company boasts an impressive portfolio of wines and is considered one of the top wine producers in Chile. In fact in both 2011 and 2012, British magazine, Drinks International recognized Concha y Toro as “The Most Admired Wine Brand in the World”. 

The Concha y Toro Private Reserve is produced in Do Maulle Valley from late harvest Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Higher than normal rainfalls in the Do Maulle Valley at times may produce the appearance of a specific fungus called Botrytis cinerea which affects grapes by absorbing their moisture making them dry. As the fruit loses moisture, its sugar content increases dramatically with the final result being that the “botrytised” or rotten grapes are able to produce an intensely sweet and flavourful wine. It is for this reason that Botrytis cinerea is known by vineyards throughout the world as the “Noble Rot”.

I was provided a 375ml sample bottle of this Noble wine by the good folks at Select Wines who are the local distributors here in Alberta.

SAM_0954In the Bottle 4.5/5

I snapped a picture of this late harvest Sauvignon Blanc on my back deck before I opened it. The long-necked bottle has an elegant shape tapering gently from the shoulders and then flaring back out again at the bottom of the bottle. It has a nice corked top which I always appreciate, as well a nice bit of detail on the back label describing the dessert wine and offering a few serving suggestions.

The only flaw is the rather weak beige coloured label which displays very little ‘pop’ in the retail setting.

Note: According to the label the Wine is bottled at 17 % alcohol by volume, and it to be served at a suggested temperature of 10 degrees Celsius.

In the Glass 22/25

The wine displays itself as a pale gold liquid in the glass with an initial nose which brings honeyed scents of fresh pears and canned fruit (peaches and apricots) into the air. The honey-like sweetness reminds me of light brown sugar, butterscotch and maple syrup. If you take the time with the glass I believe you will also catch some lightly spicy citrus like scents in the air, and some fresh green grapes penetrate the breezes as well.

In the Mouth 43.5/50

The Concha y Toro dessert wine brings a laid back style forward with sweet fruity flavours of canned pears and apricot. A light flavour of honeydew melon, a few green grapes and light apple flavours slide across the palate, and of course we have that lovely honeyed sweetness which is characteristic of late harvest dessert wines. Light speckles of orange lemon-like citrus, and hints of white oak complete the flavour profile. As indicated the wine has a character that is light and laid back despite the sweetness.

In the Throat 13/15

In the exit, a light citrus spiciness freshens the palate with lingering flavours of butterscotch, canned pears and honeydew melon. My final thoughts as the flavours slowly fade is of orange citrus and lemon.

My Final Impressions  4.5/5

I enjoyed the Concha y Toro Late Harvest Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (2008). The Wine has a subtle complexity which I enjoyed that combines a nice but not too heavy sweetness with strong fruit flavours (pear in particular but also apricot, peaches, apples and green grapes). Unexpected flavour contributions of honeydew melon add to that complexity and lightly spicy citrus components seem to liven up the wine, yet did not disturb the laid back mood I enjoyed as I sampled it.

I enjoyed pairing the Concha y Toro Late Harvest dessert wine with a whipped cream filled fruit torte after my evening meal. (The torte contained fresh orange slices, kiwi fruit, and fieldberries (blueberries, blackberries and raspberries).

If you are interested in some comparative reviews, here is a link to all of my Dessert Wine Reviews!


Note: My Wine Scores are computed in the same manner as my scores for distilled spirits. This means that my total score out of 100 is generally lower than what you would see in popular wine rating magazines. (Those magazines appear to have a system which scores almost all wines at 85 points or more.)

My system is described below and you may (loosely) interpret my scores as follows:

0-25     A wine with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    A mediocre wine which will excite no one.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, still rather unexciting.
80-84    Enjoyment begins here.
85-89    Very good to excellent!
90-94    You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this one yet…but I want to.


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