What’s in a Name …
For years I have thought “Cono Sur” was a play on the word connoisseur, and I’ll bet most of you have too. But Cono Sur is one of the wineries under the Concha Y Toro umbrella and was owned by the Tocornal family – Vina Tocornal – but Concha Y has a Tocornal vineyard, so to avoid confusion they changed the name in 1997 to Cono Sur, meaning South Cone, which is exactly what South America looks like on the world map. Huh, now you know.
The lunch and tasting was led by chief winemaker Adolfo Hurtado, whose passions lie with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling – not exactly the typical grapes you think of when Chilean wines are mentioned. When you think Chile you think of those big, full-bodied reds that blow your mind with their intense flavours and bold aromas; you don’t think Chardonnays, Rieslings or Pinot Noirs … do you? But Adolfo is insistent that these wines can be made, and made very well. I have previously reviewed a few Cono Sur wines on my What I’m Drinking Tonight blog – including the current releases of the Riesling and the Viognier. Over lunch I tried 2 Syrahs, 2 Pinot Noirs, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a red blend, the Riesling, a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc … I found all to be appealing in their own right and their value for quality ratio is almost too good to be true (I guess we’ll have to wait for them to hit shelves to see if those prices stay unbelievable) – here are my top three wine selection of the tasting:
#1 – My top tasted wines were others from the 20 Barrels series: the 2008 Syrah and the 2008 Pinot Noir (there are six single varietal wines in the series). The 2008 ’20 Barrels’ Syrah ($27.95) is the newest addition to the line-up, made from 5-year-old vines, this wine was never really ever made in 20 barrels, its initial production is 1500 cases. Lots of dark fruit with real elegance, pretty while still spicy and bold. (****½) Although it achieved the same 4-and-a-half star rating as the Syrah, the Cono Sur 2008 ’20 Barrels’ Pinot Noir ($27.95) is the wine that most sticks out in my mind. First produced in 1996, in 20 actual barrels, the wine is now produced in more barrels and has a total production of 4000 cases. The Pinot comes from the first planting of the grape in Casablanca (1989) and spends 12 months in new French barrels. Other interesting notes about this wine: the grapes are foot trodden and natural yeasts are used for fermentation, which is why you get such wonderful and interesting smells and flavours. Smells of floral/violets lead the charge with sweet cherry, raspberry and a little hint of vanilla. The taste is very focused on the tongue with earthy, spicy notes; along with spiced raspberries and cherries. To finish it off there’s a lovely long finish that has white pepper nuances. Delicious and memorable. (****½+)