There are a few things in life for which I am steadfastly unapologetic: dogs are better than cats, Macs are better than PCs, and cyclists are generally cooler than runners.
Those are just facts.
I am also not sorry, but instead rather proud to be referred to as a Pinot Noir Snob, which is someone who takes their Pinot very seriously and is quick to turn up their nose at a Pinot that, well, stinks. This also means that I am usually loathe to try bottles of wine made from that revered grape that cost less than $30.
Why $30? Well, in my semi-professional opinion, it seems that Pinots that cost less than $30 usually lack the acidity, the depth, or the structure that render Pinot perhaps the most expressive grape variety.
Recently, however, I was sent a couple of wines from the Chilean producer, Cono Sur, that challenged the above assertion. In fact, they pretty much ripped it out of my proverbial hands, tore it up, tossed it to the ground, and trampled on it.
All of which proves that I am capable of change–except on the cat thing. That is a universal truth.
2015 Cono Sur Pinot Noir Bicicleta, Chile: Retail $9. As I said above, I normally eschew Pinot below $25 (really $30). Why? Well, those cheaper Pinots tend to be thin and vapid with just a trace of flavor and the depth of a single sheet of paper; or worse, they are over-extracted fruity messes that remind you more of your Aunt Bessie’s over-cooked cherry preserves than wine. Well, I am here to tell you that good Pinot exists under that $25 (really $30) ceiling. And this is one of them. Now it will not cause a break-up with Burgundy, rupture with the Russian River, or even a withdrawal from the Willamette, but this is gangbusters at this price: fruit, earth, depth, all under a screw cap. Giddy-up. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2014 Cono Sur Reserva Especial Pinot Noir, Valle de San Antonio Chile: Retail $13. While the first wine fit the more or less “prototypical” Pinot color profile, this wine is considerably darker, which Como Sur winemaker Guillermo Sanchez assured me was quite normal for Pinots from Chile. Darker red berries with traces of mocha and funk (and for the umpteenth time: I love the funk!), this is the second Como Sur wine that delivers well above its price point. Rich, but far from extracted, this is a wine for the dinner table: porch, roast chicken, hard cheese, mushroom risotto. Another solid effort in helping to dispel the myth that good Pinot has to be pricey. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2014 Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir El Triàngulo Estate, Valle de Casablanca Chile: Retail $30. A fairly significant jump in price with the requisite jump in quality. Still dark for a Pinot, lending credulity to Guillermo Sanchez assurance above. Right from the jump this is clearly a different animal as it is a bit more closed initially, but eventually red berry fruit (along with leather and tobacco smoke) peek their way through. The twenty best barrels of the vintage were selected for this wine (hence the name), and clearly, substantial attention was paid—this is a fabulous wine and while considerably more than the other Como Sur wines sampled, this mimics the others in that it delivers at well above its price point. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
Please note: I have a working relationship with Cono Sur wines, but all the opinions expressed here are solely my own.
The second Cono Sur Wine Talk is today at 20h30 GMT (which would make it 4:30 p.m. on the East Coast). I am going to try to join the chat from Santiago, Chile. Grab a bottle of cool-climate white wine and join in, using the hashtag #ConoSurWineTalk !