Friday, 28 October 2016

Cono Sur Pinot Noir

Most of us take Chilean Pinot Noir for granted but little do we know that Pinot Noir is a relatively new discovery in Chile. Even more surprising is that Cono Sur, a young winery in Chile, is the biggest producer of Pinot Noir in the world!

Cono Sur is part of Concha y Toro. It was established in 1993 with the objective to produce wine that would be the new face of Chile, to convey the spirit of the New World. No wonder on its website, the slogan is ‘no family trees, no dusty bottles, only quality wine’. I think it’s a pretty witty way to differentiate themselves from those who emphasise on traditions.

Matías Ríos, Cono Sur’s Winemaking Manger, explained that most consumers’ perception of Chilean wine is jammy and high alcohol. ‘The new face of Chile’ is wine with drinkability. The wine should be juicy (fruity) but at the same time lively (with good acidity), and Chile has the unique geography and topography that allows them to plant vineyards in cool climate regions. Cono Sur has vineyards in all valleys from the extreme north in Limari to extreme south in Bio Bio, each vineyard planted with varieties that suit the terroir of the site. Combined this with the company’s three pillars: Innovation, Quality and Commitment to environment, Matías  believes Cono Sur is making wine that is expressive, innovative and unique to Chile.

Going back to Pinot Noir, the winery of Cono Sur was built on the Concha y Toro site in Colchagua Valley that has been planted with Pinot Noir since 1968. Naturally, Cono Sur vinified the grapes but using the same method as treating the more masculine Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere. The wine, according to Matías, was impossible to drink. The team then learnt making Pinot Noir in Burgundy and searched for the ideal sites for planting Pinot Noir. Cono Sur is the first winery producing a commercial Pinot Noir, and is now making six Pinot Noirs at all price ranges.

We tasted six wines with Matías, four from the 20 Barrels Limited Edition series and their two icon wines, Ocio and Silencio.

20 Barrels Limited Edition Pinot Noir 2014: Aged in 100% new oak, the wine is a darker shade than most Pinot Noir with intense fruits and spices. 85% of fruits came from Casablanca while the rest from next door San Antonio.

Cono Sur Ocio 2013: Ocio is the first ultra premium Pinot Noir according to Cono Sur. Similar style to the 20 Barrels but with more dimensions and complexity. Although the wine was aged in 100% new oak for 14 months, it was not overpowering because all the barrels were soaked in salt water for 10 days to remove the harsh aromas of new barrels. All grapes were from Casablanca.

20 Barrels Limited Edition Syrah 2013: Cool-climate characters Syrah with violets and spices alongside black fruits. Good acidity and a nice mouthfeel.

Cono Sur is available from Watson’s Wine.

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