Tag Archives: Chilean wine

Wine of the week: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2012

The Cono Sur was the first wine we tasted during our pinot noir extravaganza this month, and it didn ?t do much for me. I thought it was more like the Beaujolais I drank in the 1980s than pinot noir.

Two dozen pinot noirs later, I changed my mind.

It impressed me so much, in fact, that the Cono Sur ($9, sample, 13.5%) overcame my pre-disposition against Chilean pinot noir, which is often overpriced, poorly made, or both, and burdened with cute labels, a rant that regular visitors have read many times. What changed my mind was the aroma, earthy and spicy, and the taste, cherry fruit that wasn ?t too fruity, and surprisingly soft, pinot-like tannins.

Does this wine taste like red Burgundy or top-notch Oregon? Of course not. It doesn ?t even taste like Mark West or its knockoffs, the fruity, low-acid, red wines that have revolutionized pinot nor and made it affordable and accessible.

Instead, it ?s an excellent example of how to make a wine taste like its varietal at this price, using carbonic maceration instead of traditional fermentation (which explains my confusion with Beaujolais, where carbonic maceration is common).

One warning: The Cono Sur, thanks to its screwcap, takes a while to open up. That ?s one reason why it didn ?t impress me when I first tasted it. But give it 15 or 20 minutes, and you ?ll be pleasantly surprised. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame.

Mini-reviews 28: Los Vascos, picpoul, Sledgehammer, Re Midas

Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month:

? Los Vascos Chardonnay 2010 ($10, purchased): Not what it once was, and can’t be the same wine that several readers suggested I try. Some green apple, but heavy and oily — not good characteristics in a $10 chardonnay.

? Bertrand Picpoul-de-Pinet 2010 ($10, purchased): Extremely disappointing picpoul, more like a white Bordeaux. Mostly citrus fruit without picpoul’s mineral character.

? Sledgehammer Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($15, sample): Big, fruity, unsubtle and straightforward. This is a simple wine that delivers chocolate cherries and caramel for those who like that sort of thing.

? Cantina di Soave Re Midas 2010 ($10, sample): Not much there, even for $10. Almost heavy, with little of Soave’s crispness or minerality. Made in more of a New World, chardonnay style.

Wine of the week: Yellow + Blue Sauvignon Blanc 2009

The Wine Curmudgeon has long enjoyed the Yellow + Blue wines, which come in a 1-liter box (one-third more than a bottle) and offer tremendous value. So why haven't I written about the wines in almost two years? Blame it on the vagaries of the three-tier system, which has made the wines very difficult to find in Dallas (and I don't write about wines that I can't find here).

Since this post is about the wine and not the three-tier system, we'll skip the rant on the latter. Just know that the sauvignon blanc ($12, purchased) was well worth searching for. It's Chilean sauvignon blanc the way the Chileans used to make it, before they decided to raise prices and knock off New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

Look for more lime than grapefruit, with a long mineral finish. This is a very well done wine, especially for the price, and an example of what Y+B can do — assuming it can find a way to get into stores. I drank this with a Cornish hen that had been split, marinated with olive oil and lemon juice, and broiled, and it was an excellent match.

One other thing: Matt Cain, who runs Y + B, would fuss if I did not mention that this wine is made with organic grapes and that the box is a Tetra Pak, which produces a significantly smaller carbon footprint than a wine bottle. Which are good things, of course, but wouldn't make much difference if Cain's company made lousy wine. Which it doesn't.

Winebits 164: Argentine wine, Gruet, corks and screwcaps

? Argentina ahead of Chile: Argentina exported more wine to the U.S. in 2010 than arch-rival Chile, which may have been the first time that has ever happened. Argentina ranks fourth, behind Italy, France and Australia, as a supplier of wine to the U.S. market. The two countries have been fighting for several years to see which would be the biggest exporter to the U.S. market, and it has turned into a point of national wine pride.

? Gruet says it didn’t do anything wrong: The story is more than a bit confusing, but the gist is this: When Laurent Gruet, whose family owns New Mexico’s Gruet Winey, bid for Texas’ bankrupt Cap*Rock Winery last year, Laurent wasn’t acting for the winery. Hence, neither he nor the winery is responsible for damages in a lawsuit relating to the failed bid. And, for good measure, the company that owns Gruet, which is controlled by the Gruet family, says Laurent “lacked the requisite mental capacity ? to bid for Cap*Rock.

? Everything you ever wanted to know about corks: The article in Practical Winery & Vineyard is quite technical, complete with diagrams of molecules, but the language isn’t too difficult and it’s easily the best piece I’ve ever seen on the difference between corks, screwcaps, and artificial corks. Plus, authors Carlos Macku, Ph.D., and Kyle Reed, Ph.D., from the department of technical services at Cork Supply in Benicia, Calif., threw in some some academic humor: “Wine packaging (probably one of the most challenging of all food barriers) has certainly evolved from the days when the product was transported, stored, and sold in Egyptian amphorae or medieval wooden barrels.”

Wine of the week: Eco Balance Carm n re 2009

The Wine Curmudgeon, once a huge fan of Chilean wine, has become mostly ambivalent over the past several years. Too many Chilean wine have gone from being cheap and well done to just cheap. Labels that had once I counted on, like the Veramonte sauvignon blanc, have morphed into just another grocery store wine. Blame the weak dollar for much of this, but the Chileans have been turning out a lot of ordinary wine as well.

That's why the Eco Balance ($10, sample) was so welcome. Carmenere is a tricky grape to work with, and the Chileans are still trying to figure out what to do with it, especially for cheaper wines. I didn't expect much with this, and at first sip there wasn't much there. But let it open a bit, and you'll find lots of cherry fruit, something that tastes like fake oak but that isn't cheesy, and healthy tannins. The tannins were a nice touch; most wines at this price either have no tannins at all or tannins that are so harsh they grate your tongue. It's a beef wine, probably best suited for burgers and meat loaf.

And yes, it is eco-friendly. Emiliana, the producer, does three green wines — biodynamic, organic, and the Eco, which is produced using environmentally protective farming practices.