Appellations The WineKnitter Vol. 25 No. 10

Halloween Or Hallowine!

Please step into my Hallowine cellar, if you dare, and I’ll tell you a few tales!

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October is a beautiful time of year filled with fall festivals, hayrides, and dazzling mum displays. The trees are bursting with color, and the crisp smell of autumn is in the air.  It is also Halloween month, a holiday that is enjoyed and celebrated by both young and old. There are pumpkins to carve, costumes to make, parties to plan, and of course, let’s not forget scary haunted houses, spooky trails, and ghost tours!

Photo credit: Taylor Foss

Halloween is also a time for lots of fun creativity in the kitchen and making many delectable treats for children.  Of course, adults enjoy holiday treats as well, especially beverages. If pumpkin lattes and hot apple cider aren’t your thing, there are more “spirited” Halloween-themed drinks such as Poison Apple Cocktail, Boozy Witch’s Brew. Black Devil Martini and Zombie Slime Shooters!  

Photo credit: Tastemade.com

But if you prefer sipping wine, please step into my Hallowine cellar, if you dare, and I’ll tell you a few tales!

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Casillero del Diablo

Once there was a winemaker named Don Melchor Concha y Toro who founded the Concha y Toro winery in Chile in 1883.  He started his winery with grape varieties that he brought back to Chile from the Bordeaux region of France, with which he made exquisite wines. Don Melchor reserved an exclusive batch of these wines for himself that he kept under lock and key. According to legend, these wines continually disappeared from the cellarSo to stop the theft of these wines, Don Melchor spread a rumor that the devil himself lived in the cellar guarding the wines. Everyone became terrified, and some people claimed that they had seen the devil. The rumor worked, the thefts stopped, and Don Melchor continued to enjoy his wines. To this day, the cellar is known as the “The Devil’s Cellar” and remains protected…forever!

The Devil’s Cellar Photo courtesy of Casillero del Diablo

Casillero del Diablo, which means “devil’s locker” in Spanish, is a legendary brand that is part of Concha y Toro’s portfolio with the “devil” logo on every bottle.   The cellar is located in Pirque, close to Santiago, and is open for tours. Here are two wines from Casillero del Diablo to add some devilish fun to your Halloween.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Casillero del Diablo Reserva Red Blend DO 2018
The grapes for this red wine are a mysterious blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Rapel Valley. The wine is shrouded in secrecy about its length of aging, but rumor has it that it spent about ten months in French oak. But there is no mystery as to this wine’s aromas and taste!
Nose:  Dark berries, black cherry, fig, spice, and vanilla
Palate: Juicy plum, dark cherry, spice, dark chocolate, and soft tannins
Alcohol: 13.5%
SRP: $11.99 
Pair with grilled meat, game, seared tuna, hearty stews, and pasta.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Casillero del Diablo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
The grapes for this wine are sourced from Central Valley D.O. Its aging remains a secret closely guarded by the devil in the cellar!
Nose: Intense aromas of dark berries, cherries, plum, floral, and spice.
Palate: Aromas spill onto the palate with a touch of anise. It is beautifully balanced with firm tannins and dark chocolate and plum lingering on a long finish.
Alcohol: 13.5%
SRP: $11.99
Pair with hearty or spicy cuisine, grilled meat, aged cheese, or stews.

Flora Springs

Flora Springs is a family-run winery located in Napa Valley, CA, founded in 1978 by Jerry and Flora Komes. Today, their son John and daughter Julie are the proprietors of the estate, and Julie’s husband, Pat Garvey, is the vineyard director and proprietor. The property is situated among vineyards planted in the late 1800s, now part of the estate vineyards.  When the Komes bought the estate, it came with a “Ghost Winery.” originally constructed in 1885. “Ghost Winery” is a term used to describe any winery between 1860 and 1900 that was non-functional and in disrepair in the early 20th century due to the Great Depression, phylloxera, and Prohibition.  According to Flora Springs, “Before 1919, when Prohibition began, there were an estimated 713 winery businesses in California. Following its repeal 14 years later, only 40 wineries were left. This resulted in a wave of abandoned wineries throughout the next several decades. Many wineries of the time disappeared forever; others were left in ruins.” After his parents bought the property, John completely renovated the old stone winery into a home and lives there with his wife, Carrie. 

Before and after photos of the Ghost Winery courtesy of Flora Springs

In honor of Flora Springs history, every year around Halloween time, they bottle a small amount of estate-grown Malbec from the vines in front of the old winery as a tribute to the estate’s “ghostly history.” The label is a hand-drawn etching of the historic stone cellar.

Ghost Winery Malbec 2019
This wine is 100% Malbec and aged 18 months in French (75%) and American (25%) oak barrels.
Nose: Plum, cherry, berries, baking spice, and figs
Palate: Lush dark berries, black plum, cocoa, fig, spice, silky tannins, and a long finish.  Flora Springs says, “It’s hauntingly delicious.”
Alcohol: 14.2%
SRP:  $60
Pair with stews, hearty soups, grilled meat, seared tuna, or aged cheese.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

In addition to the Ghost Winery Malbec, Flora Springs produces a one-of-a-kind Halloween-themed label and limited edition wine.  Every year since 2008, consumers look forward to these whimsical Halloween wine bottles. This year, General manager and third-generation Nat Komes collaborated with New York-based artist Marc Sasso to create the All Hallows’ Eve Cabernet Franc label. The result is an image of witches dancing in the moonlight while brewing a special potion.  Hmm, I wonder what that could be!

All Hallows’ Eve Cabernet Franc 2019
The grapes for this 100% Cabernet Franc are sourced from a small block of the family’s estate vineyard in Rutherford. It is aged 18 months in French (80%) and American (20%) oak barrels.
Nose:  Red fruit, baking spice, cherry, and a hint of floral.
Palate: Juicy notes of black raspberry, dark cherry, chocolate, spice, and a touch of sour cherry on a long finish.  It is a balanced and well-structured wine. 
Alcohol: 14.2%
SRP:   $60
Pair with grilled meat, fowl, seared tuna, or a Halloween chocolate treat!

And what would Halloween be without adding a little “magical” sparkle to the festivities?  

Bottega SpA

Bottega SpA is headquartered in Bibano, Treviso, in the Veneto region of northern Italy.  It is here that the company produces Prosecco DOC and grappa. In addition, they have another winery in Conegliano for the production of Prosecco DOCG.  Bottega also manages wineries in Valpolicella and Montalcino.  Bottega’s motto is “Fatto A Mano,” which means ‘handmade.” Its mission is to work and achieve the highest levels of quality, design, and sustainability.  All of the bottles are beautifully designed and made of hand-blown Venetian glass in Bottega’s glass factory. Academia Prosecco Rainbow Collection is a brand that celebrates the art of Venetian glassmaking and the city’s festive carnival atmosphere. Each colorful bottle of this collection contains Prosecco DOC. There are many colors to choose from, and the bottles can be combined to “create a rainbow of emotions.” In addition, one can mix and match the colors to celebrate specific holidays or events. 

Although Bottega SpA has no ghost stories to tell, they have certainly gotten into the “spirit” of Halloween with their orange and black Halloween pack of Prosecco DOC.

 

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Prosecco Spumante DOC Brut
Made with 100% Glera, these grapes are hand-harvested from manually maintained and sustainable vineyards in Treviso Plains. This wine is produced using the Martinotti (Charmat tank) method.  
Nose: Floral, apples, citrus
Palate: Apple, pear, pink grapefruit, and a hint of floral with a creamy mouthfeel, fine bubbles, and apples lingering on the finish.  This is a fresh and lively sparkling wine.
Alcohol: 11%
SRP: $42 (Halloween pack of two)
Pair with a charcuterie board, light salads, fish, risotto, or enjoy as an aperitif.

Although Halloween is a great time to let one’s imagination run wild and tap into one’s creative spirit, all of these wines need no special occasion to open and enjoy! Whatever you choose to sip on Halloween, I hope you have some juicy ghost stories to pair with it!

Happy Hallowine!

Cheers!
Penny 

Feature photo credit: Cseungiu Lee

Penny is a wine, spirits, food, and travel writer. Her sensory examination and evaluation of wine and food are noteworthy. Penny has a popular website called The WineKnitter that takes you with her to discover wine/spirits, travel, food, and culture worldwide. She began her serious foray into the world of wine in the early 1980s, where she was part of three very successful family-owned restaurants in NYC and "cut her teeth,” so to speak, with wines such as Petrus, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut Brion, Cristal, etc. Penny has an extensive presence on many social media sites, and her education is ongoing with wine seminars, wine tastings, and culinary delights from around the world. She studied at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, completed WSET Level 2 Certification with Distinction, and is continuing with Level 3, advanced certification in wine. Penny is a member of The Wine Media Guild.

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