Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Report from ... An Evening with Adolfo Hurtado of Cono Sur – June 5, 2012

New Look Label of Cono Sur
It’s been so long since I had this dinner that I can barely remember where it was held; thankfully I took copious notes (which I just found).  This dinner was hosted by Adolfo Hurtado, head winemaker of Cono Sur and was in honour of the new brand re-launch and update of the labels.  We’ve all seen Cono Sur wines on the shelf at our local liquor store – and most likely you have bought a bottle or two based on their amazing price-point … then you probably bought a few more bottles based on the quality that was in the bottle:  price + value + good tasting wine = a consistently good buy – and that’s what Cono Sur wines are all about.
Every pic I took of Adolfo, he has demon eyes ... hmmmm
Tonight we tasted 10 wines, including two bubblies, three Chardonnay, two Pinot Noirs, a Syrah and two Cabernets – here’s my take on my top 6 … really it’s a Top 5 with a special mention:

5. Cono Sur 2011 Reserva Syrah ($12.95) – this wine also has three other components: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere – all equaling 12%.  The nose is raspberry with smoky white pepper aromas, the palate has a smoky, meaty quality with spice and will-integrated tannins … good wine, especially for the price. (*** ½+)
Sippable and Affordable - you gotta like that
4 & 3.  Chardonnays … we tasted three Chardonnays tonight, one I did not like at all, so because I have nothing nice to say I’ll take mama’s advice on that one.  The other two garnered 4 stars and 4+ stars respectively.  First, there’s the great value Cono Sur 2011 Reserva Chardonnay ($12.95), 100% Chardonnay with 15% of the wine aged in new barrels, the other 85% sees stainless steel for for 5 months.  The result is a well-balanced, totally quaffable wine.  The nose has vanilla, peach, delicious apple, floral and citrus notes.  The palate really shows some complexity so bear with me as I explain.  It starts off with a creaminess to the palate with mainly vanilla and apple puree notes, then comes a little lemon and peach; finally, it ends with a hint of lime meringue (****).  Where the Reserva Chardonnay has a creamy freshness, the 20 Barrels Limited Edition 2008 Chardonnay ($24.95) is bold and powerful without being too oaky and overpowering.  It’s interesting to note that the grapes that go into this Chardonnay are picked later than most Chardonnay in Chile, giving it longer hang time which in turn gives the wine weight on the palate … then an aging regime that sees the wine spend 9 months in oak and 1 month in stainless steel.  The result is a nose that’s rich in buttery, vanilla and lime pith.  The palate keeps ripe fruit front-and-centre: lemon/lime, apple pulp, peach pit and there are also some interesting elements that add up to major enjoyment of this wine: it’s a touch salty, a touch creamy and a touch of oak sweetness – fresh, bold and delicious – this one’s worth it’s $24.95 price tag (****+)
One delicious Pinot Noir
2. Two Pinot Noirs were swerved up: one, the high end Ocio 2009 ($62.95), the other the 20 Barrels Limited Edition 2009 ($27.95) – I liked them both and scored them pretty equally at 4 stars, and for different reasons, but when push came to shove I just found myself drawn to the 20 Barrels each and every time.  The Ocio needs time to find its path in this world as now it is leathery, gamy and sour fruit-ish, with peppery-spices throughout …the 20 Barrels wine was just so pretty right now, with loads of finesse that lured you back again and again.  Aromas of raspberry and cherry, hints of floral and a little VA (nail polish) wafted about on the occasional sniff, but nothing off-putting.  The palate had all the goodies of warm climate Pinot: raspberry, cherry, and strawberry with barely a hint of earthiness – the fruit carries this one all the way to the finish, where darker fruit notes begin to emerge (****).
Wine of the Night: 2008 Cabernet 20 Barrels
1. The wine of the night goes to the 20 Barrels Limited Edition 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($26.95) … the vines from whence this wine comes were planted in the 1960’s, aged 17 months in barrel and let rest 1 month in stainless steel.  It has everything you’d look for in a Cabernet from Chile: aromas of chocolate, spice, blackberry and black cherry with a hint of mint.  The palate is full flavoured with black cherry, blackberry, powerful tannins along with pepper and spice biting at the tongue for supremacy on the finish – it showed real elegance especially with steak (****+)

When asked his favourite wine of the night I expected Adolfo to fall back on the “they’re all my children, you can’t pick a favourite …” B.S. that many winemakers use, but instead he thought careful and came right out and said: “the 200 Barrels Chardonnay” – that would have been my second had I been like Adolfo and had fish.

What's for Dinner ...

For more wine reviews and related articles go to www.ontariowinereview.com,
while there sign up for Michael's free bi-weekly newsletter.

No comments: