Monday, December 24, 2007

Another Good Chilean Pinot

I'm on a roll with Chilean wines these days. After I finished up my Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc, I opened up this Colchagua Valley pinot noir that cost me just $9.95 at Chronicle Wine Cellar (you can find it elsewhere for between $10 and $18). Like the other Chilean wines I've had recently, this was a pleasant surprise, since I don't drink much wine from region. (photo by Greg Turner)

Cono Sur began in 1993, and is named for the "southern cone" of South America where the vineyards are located along the coast of Chile. Winemaker Adolfo Hurtado is particularly committed to what he calls his "pinot noir project," where with Burdundian winemaker Martin Prieur Cono Sur is modeling their practices after French vinification techniques. The first pinot noir project bottling was given the name Ocio, to remind people of the creative pleasures of leisure.

Hurtado makes other pinot noir, too, which are very affordable and should make it possible for even the most dedicated fans of the grape to have a decent bottle whenever they feel the need. Because Cono Sur makes so many different pinots, it is a good idea to check the labels. Here I had the 2006 Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir Colchagua Valley, otherwise known as the "pinot with the geese on it." This was a nice example of a New World style pinot noir, with aromas of fresh raspberry and ripe cherry. These aromas were echoed in the flavors, with the addition of a nice earthy note and some surprising weight for a pinot noir at this price point. The wine had pinot noir's hallmark silky texture, and a finish that was juicy rather than spicy. As the wine opened up some toffee notes emerged in the finish, as well. Not the world's most complex pinot, but one that is pleasing and well made at a good price, so good QPR from my standpoint.

This was a pinot noir that was so affordable you could serve it at a big party and not feel ashamed. We had it with a 30-minute cracked black pepper and romano cheese polenta topped with marsala mushrooms, and it went very well with that peppery, flavorful, and smooth-textured dish. However you serve it, this wine is a good reminder to broaden your wine horizons and try new wines and relatively new winemakers when you get the chance. There are some nice surprises in store when you do!


Joe said...

I'm a big fan of that '06 - tasted here with a Thanksgiving turkey. Have you tried any other vintages of the Cono Sur?

Dr. Debs said...

I've never had another Cono Sur wine, and they have a lot of different lines. I think I would stick to the Vision, since they seem to be a nice blend of affordability and winemaker selectivity.

Joe said...

I was just curious if this very good pinot was a flash in the pan, or if there was some consistency to their Vision Pinot. I have not tried the other Cono Sur lines/grapes either.

Dr. Debs said...

I don't know from first-hand experience, and I think Vision is a newer line. The regular and reserve Cono Sur pinots don't seem to rate quite as highly on CellarTracker as I thought this one warranted.

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