Roughly translated as “the devil’s cellar,” Chilean wine producer Casillero del Diablo derives its name from a company legend. The story goes that wine frequently went missing from the cellar. To scare off thieves, founder Don Melchor de Concha y Toro spread a rumor that the devil lived down there.
Today, many wines are still aged in those same caves in the Maipo Valley, which guests can tour during visits to Concha Y Toro, which owns Casillero del Diablo, about an hour outside of Santiago.
The value-driven label has evolved since its inception in 1963, with a portfolio rooted in the adventurous nature of Chilean wine. Casillero del Diablo has vineyards throughout Chile’s geographically diverse areas, in the Valle Central, Maipo Valley, Rapel Valley, and Limarí Valley regions. Marcelo Papa, veteran winemaker and technical director for Concha y Toro, first worked with Casillero del Diablo in 1998.
“During this time, I have witnessed the incredible evolution and growth of the brand,” says Papa. “This recognition makes me feel proud and reflects the extraordinary work that we have done together over the past decades.”
In recent years, the international brand—imported to the U.S. by Fetzer Vineyard—has invested in a relaunch that has reinvigorated sales of its affordable and quality wines to consumers in more than 140 countries.
“To me, Casillero del Diablo is Chile,” says Winemaker Sebastián Rodríguez. “It is the best ambassador we can have in the world.”
Adding to the brand’s current appeal is the success of its much-heralded 2018 vintage. The complex, expressive reds include a Cabernet Sauvignon, which was Casillero del Diablo’s inaugural bottling during the 1966 vintage.
“Our wines faithfully reflect the expression of each of our varieties,” says Rodríguez.
In an online video series titled “Challenge Your Senses,” Concha y Toro Head Sommelier Massimo Leonori guides viewers through the 2018 vintage, explaining the ideal conditions that led to the “near perfect” reds, and engaging consumers with a challenge to explore the wines through guided blind tastings.
The combination of a new direct-to-customer sales model and a stellar vintage has contributed to a renewed interest in the brand’s wines and the Chilean wine category at large.
“It is a tremendous honor to see Casillero del Diablo recognized with such a significant commendation,” says Giancarlo Bianchetti, CEO of Fetzer Vineyards. “Casillero del Diablo’s well-developed market presence in the U.S. and globally has long set the stage for newcomers to Chilean wine to appreciate the incredible quality, variety and flavor afforded by wines from Chile. Its success symbolizes the potential of the category and inspires us to continue to expand and enhance the ways we bring these remarkable wines to consumers.”
For its commitment to making Chilean wines accessible to the world, and its innovation without losing tradition, Wine Enthusiast names Casillero del Diablo its New World Winery of the Year. —Shelby Vittek