Winemaker Isabel Mitarakis Is Proudly Bringing Chile To The World With Viña Concha y Toro’s Luxury Wines

Winemaker Isabel Mitarakis from Viña Concha y Toro’s presenting their Luxury Wines

Isabel Mitarakis, a pioneering winemaker known for crafting exceptional wines, is here to present part of the Jewels of the New World range of Viña Concha y Toro’s luxury wines from a vineyard created by their visionary founder Don Melchor, who has an award-winning wine named after him, and who opened the winery 140 years ago. “Concha y Toro – like any brand – started with a vision, and everything began with him…” 

Isabel Mitarakis bustles in, a little late. She’s just flown in on the latest leg of a whistle stop Asia tour. And there were some hold ups at the airport. 

Isabel, who received her degree in Agricultural Engineering with a specialization in Enology, joined Viña Concha y Toro in 2011, has come to be regarded as a pioneer in winemaking, known for her expertise in crafting exceptional wines.

Despite the hectic schedule, Winemaker Isabel Mitarakis is proud to show of the wines, and represent Chile.
“In the end, what I get to do is beautiful. We’re a company, but we’re also showing a country. And we want people to know Chile, and its people and history. And that makes me proud.”

And she’s here to lead a tasting and a talk about some of the Jewels of the New World, a confederation of fine wines from Viña Concha y Toro, which is exclusively available in Vietnam from Annam Group (Annam Gourmet and Warehouse), and that have been produced in Chile (although the full range of Jewels of the New World includes wines from Argentina and The States).

Due to the scarcity, legacy and crafstmanship of Viña Concha y Toro wines, under the Jewels of the New World concept, each one has been paired with a precious gem to highlight their shared properties.

Aside from what she estimates are three or four two-week trips per year, like this one, to present Viña Concha y Toro wines – she spends her time in Chile, mostly on the vineyards sandwiched between the Pacific coast and the Andes Mountains. 

Currently switching that rural idyll for an Asian tour, she seems completely unfazed by the attention, and the intense travel schedule. “When you’re in the vineyard, and in the cellar, it’s winemaking and you’re totally immersed in that art. But after, when you show the wine to the world, you feel honored. And the two are interconnected,” she smiles. “In the end, what I get to do is beautiful. We’re a company, but we’re also showing a country. And we want people to know Chile, and its people and history. And that makes me proud.”

Viña Concha y Toro Jewels of the New World Wines available exclusively from Annam Group (Annam Gourmet and Warehouse).

Viña Concha y Toro: One Of The Most Admired Wine Brands In The World

Viña Concha y Toro, one of the most admired wine brands in the world, has also done a lot to elevate the country’s status. And wines like the Don Melchor, named after the vineyard’s founder, gather raving fans wherever they’re tasted. 

James Suckling gave the Don Melchor 2018 vintage a 100 score reserved for wines at the center of “a perfect storm of internal and external factors.”

But the Don Melchor (this time the 2021 vintage) is one of eight wines Isabel’s presenting — all of which are available from Annam Gourmet and Warehouse. Besides that, there’s two wines from Amelia, a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir, which express the unique, calcium-rich character of the Limari Valley – the first wines in the tasting and the vineyard where, in 2011, Isabel got to work on her first vintage – and two from Terrunyo, a Carmenere from the Peumo Vineyard beside the Cachapoal River, and a Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Pirque Viejo Vineyard in the Maipo Valley. Then there’s Viña Concha y Toro’s Gravas, that’s “a tribute to the Andes Mountains,” created by Isabel herself. 

Next, the velvety, faintly smoky Master Edition Cabernet Sauvignon, also from the Maipo Valley, and Carmín de Peumo, a Carmenere that reflects the terroir of Peumo.

As part of the Jewels of the New World concept, the Carmin de Peumo, for example is paired with the gem rhodochrosite, to represent ‘rebirth’ – the wine represented the rebirth of Carmenere in Chile, where it became the grapes first icon. And Isabel’s Gravas, a wine in thrall of the Andes, is paired sky blue aquamarine, which represents magnificence and harmony, elements encapsulated in the Chilean mountain range.

Winemaker Isabel Mitarakis with a bottle of the Don Melchor 2021.
Winemaker Isabel Mitarakis with a bottle of Don Melchor: “a full expression of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.”

Don Melchor Represents Chile And Cabernet Sauvignon

Pressed to choose only one to convert the uninitiated to the wines of Concha y Toro, Isabel reluctantly goes for the Don Melchor. “It’s a full expression of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon,” she explains. “And we started growing it in 1987, so we have some history behind it already. Added to that, it takes its name from our founder, who began making wines 140 years ago, so it really represents Chile and Cabernet Sauvignon in that sense too.”

It’s that amount of history that’s blurring the divisions between the new and the old world. It’s an easy categorization to make. But, in fact, Viña Concha y Toro was founded by businessman Don Melchor in 1883, by which time he had already brought French wines back from Bordeaux, invested in winemaking machinery, and built a subterranean cellar for his product. 

“Our story isn’t new, and while we are, of course, new world in relation to countries like France, for me, the new world right now might be places like Thailand or Japan,” Isabel continues. “I think people recognize Chile as a good place for wine production. Now we want to show it’s a place for super premium wines too.”

Cheers to the Jewels of the New World with winemaker Isabel Mitarakis
Isabel Mitarakis in front of the display of Concha y Toro’s Jewels of the New World wines, including the Gravas, a wine ‘in thrall to the Andes’ which she made.

Handmade To Scale

Today, serving something like 140 countries, this is also wine making to scale. And lots of Isabel’s talk is interspersed with glossy, big budget videos about the wines. But, she says, as a winemaker at Viña Concha y Toro, you always start by getting your hands dirty, directly touching the wine, just as she did with her first vintage in 2011.

“And that helps you to deeply understand all the details – from making the wine to working with people,” she explains. “So, these wines still come from a very handmade philosophy.”

The presentation is filled with an incredible amount of data and detail too. 

“For me, I love science,” Isabel admits. “And from that passion, grew my desire to study agriculture. But winemaking is more than science. For example, when you make a blend it cannot only be science.” 

Winemaker Isabel Mitarakis taking a sip before her masterclass and reflecting on all the factors that went into its creation.
“The perception I taste, through my palate, is completely different to what someone else would taste.” — Isabel Mitarakis on the art and the science of wine making.

Where Science Meets Intuition

Between slides, she takes a sip of each wine, remonstrating gently with the team when they forget to include her in the tasting. And with each sip, she seems to be reflecting on all the factors that went into its creation – the soil, the weather that year, the time of harvesting, the blend of grapes, and the aging, and much more. 

“The perception I taste, through my palate, is completely different to what someone else would taste. So, it’s a mix of science – we need to understand the soil, and the climate, the grapes, the mass selection, the rootstock, which are all very scientific – but we have to use our intuition. In the end, it’s a representation of origin and taste, and so we use both.”

Tasting times, as the pioneering Chilean winemaker Isabel Mitarakis takes invitees through the stories behind some of the Jewels of the New World.

And it’s a mix of both science and intuition from esteemed winemakers like Isabel, or Viña Concha y Toro’s other winemakers like Marcio Ramirez and Marcelo Papa, and Enrique Tirado, who makes the Don Melchor.

We wonder, then, what Don Melchor himself, the founder of Viña Concha y Toro, would make of all this were he around today. “He would be proud that his vision has become manifest,” Isabel asserts. “Concha y Toro – like any brand – starts with a vision, and everything began with him…”


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