Showing posts with label Cono Sur. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cono Sur. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Memories of Paris return with this classy Pinot Noir from the Southern Cone.

Memories of Paris return with this classy Pinot Noir from the Southern Cone.

Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir DO Val de Casablanca Chile 2017, 14% ABV, €60.00 Bradleys

I have a little history with Conor Sur and Ocio, dating from a Friday night in November 2014:

The private boat trip on the Seine was a surprise. We started more or less at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, cruised under the bridges of Paris, the illuminated buildings adding to the magic. A lovely meal and Cono Sur wines enhanced the pleasure. The focus was very much on three reds that evening: the 20 Barrels Syrah and the 20 Barrels Cabernet Sauvignon and, perhaps (even then) my favourite, the Ocio Pinot Noir.

The day had started with the European final Bloggers Recipe cook-off in L’Atelier Beaubourg (close to the Pompidou) with Clare and myself representing Ireland, Anna for Sweden and Johanna for Finland. Some gentle bubbles to ease us into it - loved that Cono Sur rosé - and, with lots of friendly chats going on, there was no pressure.

When the winner was announced late that night on the boat we, the Ireland champions, were pipped for the trip to Chile by Finland. But we did have the most fabulous night in Paris. And we met the Chileans again in Dublin on the following Monday when there was more Ocio, though the focus then was mostly on the launch of their fantastic Silencio Cabernet Sauvignon.

Docking, but still rocking on the river.

Our Ocio, lovingly crafted by a Chilean winemaker and a Burgundian consultant, comes in a beautiful crimson robe, slightly lighter around the edges. Cono Sur’s iconic Pinot Noir has an arresting aromatic intensity expressing fresh notes of red berries, plum and cherries with a touch of spice and tobacco and hints of its 14 months in French oak. In the mouth, it feels velvety and elegant.  Acidity and balanced tannins play key roles in bringing it all together for a lengthy finish. 

This is one of those gorgeous wines that goes well beyond second glass appeal. Very Highly Recommended.

Ocio is a red wine that can be enjoyed slightly chilled, at 14°C. Enjoy it, Cono Sur say, with fresh salads, with red fruit sauces, soft cheeses such as brie, duck, tuna or preparations with mushrooms. We celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary recently and Ocio was the chosen wine and we paired it, quite successfully I thought, with the French dish Boeuf Bourguignon. Both the dish and the wine brought back happy memories of days and nights in La Belle France.

All aboard on the Seine

Cono Sur itself was born around the first Pinot Noir vines were planted in Chile, more specifically in Colchagua Valley. “In the 60s, the region was considered an area with a cool climate and suitable for variety. Being around the first vines inspired us to adopt Pinot Noir as our flagship variety and the goal of producing the best Chilean Pinot Noir was born.” 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cono Sur In Tour De France. El Vino Outsprints Le Vin

Cono Sur In Tour De France
El Vino Outsprints Le Vin
Tour legend Seán Kelly on St Stephen’s Green with Adolfo Hurtado,
Cono Sur’s Executive Director and Chief Winemaker
This National Bike Week, Irish cycling legend Seán Kelly has teamed up with Cono Sur, one of Ireland’s favourite Chilean wine brands, to celebrate their official wine partnership with the Tour de France.

The elegant limited edition Cono Sur Bicicleta labels will feature artwork, exclusively commissioned, by esteemed British artist Eliza Southwood and celebrates the beauty and passion of cycling.

Bicicleta, Cono Sur’s most popular range, is named after the bicycles their workers use to get around the vineyards, helping to keep their carbon footprint low and their grapes at optimum quality.
The Cono Sur Bicicleta wines have an RSP of €11.99 and are widely available nationwide. The specially illustration used on the label can be found on seven varieties in the following countries: Colombia, Ireland, Lithuania,Poland, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States. The Tour de France will take place from July 2-24.

This is the third year of the sponsorship, a daring move that caught the French flat-footed. But just recently, the winemakers down in the Aude, who have already this year emptied tankers of Spanish wine onto the motorways, have forced the Tour organisers to switch gears and make something of a concession in order to avoid a threatened blockade of the annual cycling race.
Read more here.  
Sean getting away from Adolfo!
Protest notwithstanding, I’ve already completed two stages of the Bicicleta and feel like a winner; might not be enough for the Maillot Jaune but the Geansaí Glas would be very acceptable.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Sauvignon Blanc, Chile 2015, 12%, Bradley’s Off-Licence
Fresh aromas of peaches and lemons. A refreshing tingle on the palate, good balance of fruit and acidity and a crisp dry finish, just like Mark Cavendish. Pair with salads, light seafood and vegetarian dishes and fine too as an aperitif. Recommended.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Merlot, Valle Central Chile 2015, 14%, Bradley’s Off-Licence
The colour here is a dark red. Bottle notes sum up the aromas very well: blackberry, chocolate, and lightly toasted oak. Ripe fruit flavours, vanilla too, warm and rich, nice balance and decent finish. Cono Sur say pair it with steak or white meat. More stamina in this one, just like Chris Froome.
Started this on a Friday, then applied the Vacu-vin. Forgot about it until Sunday and found a definite improvement. No shortage of bottle then, just like Dan Martin. Recommended.
In the vineyards.
A rest and then back on the bike

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Cono Sur Chef Challenge 2016. Race to Paris is on!

The Cono Sur Chef Challenge 2016

 Chefs across Ireland invited to submit an original recipe for a chance to win a first class gourmet trip to Paris

Starting Monday 11th April, Cono Sur and Pallas Foods are inviting all chefs in the Republic of Ireland to submit an original recipe that complements the prestigious 20 Barrels wines from Cono Sur.

Chefs are invited to simply upload their recipes with photos to to be in with a chance to win a first class trip for two to Paris for a gourmet weekend away.

Entries close on Friday 6th May.

Five semi-finalists will then be chosen for a “cook-off” on Wednesday 1st June at the Pallas Foods, Foods Solution Centre in Dublin, where a select panel of judges will choose the top three chefs to go through to the exciting finale held on Monday 13th June.

Then, judges at the final will be assisted by Cono Sur General Manager and Chief Winemaker Adolfo Hurtado, who will have the last word on which recipe is the best match for his beloved 20 Barrels range.

For more information visit

About the 20 Barrels Range

In 1996 Cono Sur decided to tackle the challenge of making their first ultra premium wine; the chosen variety was Pinot Noir and for its inaugural production they set apart 20 barrels of the best fruit the '96 vintage had provided.

This exquisite range’s name was coined after those 20 initial barrels. Pinot Noir was soon followed by other varieties, with Sauvignon Blanc joining the range in 2005.

Since then the wines have won numerous prestigious awards, such as:

Cono Sur 20 Barrels Sauvignon Blanc
  • Gold, Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2014
  • 90 points and #4 in Decanter's Top 50 2015
  • 95 Points, Descorchados 2015 + Best from Casablanca
  • 95 Points, Descorchados 2016 + Among the Best White Wines + Among the Best Wines from Casablanca
  • 90 Points, Wine Advocate 2014
  • Gold, Japan Wine Challenge 2014
press release

Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir
  • 91 Points, 2015
  • 91 Points, Descorchados 2015
  • 91 Points, Wine Advocate 2014
  • Double Gold, Sakura 2015
  • Silver, Japan Wine Challenge 2014

The Cono Sur 20 Barrels Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir retail at €24.99 and are available from premium independent off-licences nationwide.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cabernet Sauvignon. Both Sides of the Andes

Cabernet Sauvignon
From Both Sides of the Andes
Cono Sur winemaker Adolfo Hurtado in the Opera House last year.

“The Los Cardos wines are readily available and are among the world’s great values.” So says the recently published Wines of South America. Not that readily available around here but did find this one in the city centre Tesco a few weeks before Christmas and alongside it was the Block 18 which is made by Cono Sur winemaker Adolfo Hurtado who, coincidentally, was hosting a wine tasting in the Opera House at the time. “That will be good,” he told me. And he was right, as he usually is! The prices at the time of purchase were €18.00 for the Doña Paula and €20 for the Block 18 (a Tesco Finest).
Cabernet Sauvignon makes wine that can age for decades. The two below are very young but don’t worry. “South American Cabernets...are bursting with flavour at only a couple of years old.” declares Grapes and Wines. I think this pair confirm that.

Doña Paula Los Cardos Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Mendoza (Argentina), 14%
Los Cardos means thistles, “a sign of good terroir” according to the bottle. The vineyards, by the way, are at about 1050 metres up. Doña Paula is the Argentinian arm of the Chilean company Santa Rita. Malbec is their signature wine but they are also well respected for their Cabernet Sauvignon and more as you can see from the Wines of South America endorsement.
Despite the large size of the company, they make quite a lot of wine, including this one, from estate grown fruit. Colour is deep ruby and the aromas are quite expressive, featuring mainly dark fruit including typical blackcurrant scents. Quite an intense attack from this one, smooth fruit, spice and fine tannins and a long finish and Highly Recommended.

El Recurso Vineyard Block 18 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Valle de Maipo (Chile), 14%,
This is also a dark ruby and the aromas are a shade more intense with dark berries and plums to the fore. It is smoother and rounder and more complete on the palate, more full bodied than the Doña Paula and the long lingering finish too is superior. Twelve months in French oak has had the desired effect in terms of complexity and smoothness. Very Highly Recommended.
The El Recurso Estate has vineyards divided into blocks and the grapes for this wine, carefully selected by Adolfo, come from number 18, selected for its privileged location in the upper north east Maipo Valley. The rocky, alluvial soil here contributes to the impressive colour and marked intensity. Great with grilled, roasted or barbecued meat.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Superb Cono Sur & Penfolds Tasting in Cork (Part 2)

Superb Cono Sur & Penfolds Tasting in Cork
Two of the world’s leading winemakers were in Cork last week for an unusual double tasting. Adolfo Hurtado came from Cono Sur in Chile to link up with Andrew Baldwin of Australia’s Penfolds. The event, in the Blue Angel Bar at the Opera House, was organised by Findlater Wines and was more a masterclass than your basic tasting. Lots of notes and photos were taken and it’s been a job to edit it all down to two posts, the first here features Adolfo and Cono Sur, the second (below) sees Penfolds in the spotlight with Andrew going solo!
Part Two
Andrew explains the Penfolds range

Andrew Baldwin is a leading winemaker at Penfolds of South Australia. But, as a young man, he started there as a distiller! He was making neutral and brandy spirits. He has been there for thirty years now - the company do seem to have many loyal long-term employees - and he has been making wine since the 90s, “everything from Bin 28 to Grange”.
Grange, of course, is “an icon” and has been described as “an institution”. It was first made in the 1950’s by Max Schubert and was soon “the subject of controversy” according to Andrew. Schubert was told by the board that it was like a dry Tawny Port and “who, in their right mind, was going to drink a dry Tawny Port”.

Back at base, Max continued to work on the Grange. But in secret. Just like winemakers in France during the WW2 occupation, he constructed fake walls and made three vintages behind closed doors in the tunnels of Magill Estate. At that point, the board's interest was revived and Max was able to reveal his secret, even if stocks were limited. Its fame soon grew and the standard has never dropped.

During the 50th anniversary (2001) of Max Schubert’s creation of Grange, to recognize its consistent quality and renown, the national Trust of South Australia listed Penfolds Grange as an official heritage icon. To see Russell Crowe’s 3 minute video of Grange, please click here.
Before the joint event in the Opera House

Following many years of continued growth, in both the production and the reputation of the wines from The Grange Vineyard, Penfolds (once owned by Guinness) now accounts for 50 percent of all of the annual wine sales across the whole of Australia.
The company is also a huge exporter and much of the credit for that goes to Dr Ray Beckwith. Andrew says Ray, a contemporary of Max Schubert, “put science behind wine in Australia”. “He helped give stability to the wines and that led to exports”.

All ready to go in the Blue Angel

Up to the 1950s, as you'll see in the Crowe video, much of Australia was drinking Port and Sherry type wines. And indeed that was how Penfolds started, back in 1844! Englishman Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold and his wife Mary arrived with cuttings from the South of France and proceeded to make fortified wine “for medicinal purposes”.
And Andrew acknowledged that “Tawny style wines were our foundation” and told me that the Port (not necessarily for medicinal purposes anymore) is still a vital part of the production with three being made from ten year old to 35 year old. He describes the older one “as the great grand-father, a wine of exceptional complexity”.

Penfolds are known for their blending prowess, grapes bought in from near and far, but they also celebrate terroir and the Holy Ground in this regard is Block 42. Andrew says that this 10-acre block was planted only 30 years after the great 1855 Bordeaux Classification and comprises the oldest plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon continuously produced in the world.

It’s been all red wine in this piece so far but Andrew pointed out that “the white wine portfolio compares well. Two years ago, our Chardonnay was ‘best in world’”.
Yours Truly with Carmel from Ardkeen Superstore
We asked Andrew for a few tips for someone wishing to start exploring Penfolds wine and, without hesitation, he recommended the Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet because of its “drinkability and lots of fruit” and he also said the Koonunga Hill Chardonnay is “really approachable”.
Penfolds Tasting

Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2014
Andrew  told us that the Eden Valley produces white wines “more floral, more aromatic” than the Clare. “It has good balance, great with seafood or as an aperitif. There are lime lemony characters and, with sugar under 2 grams, it is very very dry.”
Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvedre 2012
The first red and our first example of blending, the fruit for this coming from the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Padthaway. The Mourvedre, better known as Mataro (the Aussies prefer the easier pronunciation!), “adds spiciness and evenness to the palate”. It has spent 10 months in a mixture of oak. This is a relatively new blend and popularity continues to grow, especially in the Asian market.
Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz 2012
This is one of their newer wines and dates from the early 90s. It has a lovely sweetness and Andrew was quick to point out that the sweetness is natural” “It comes from the fruit, not from sugar!” This particular year the blend was 57% Cabernet and 43% Shiraz and that is close to the usual proportions. It has been matured, for 12 months, in seasoned and American oak, with 13% in new French oak, and has “a lovely whole mouth sensation. The two varieties complement each other.”
Adolfo and Cono Sur featured in yesterday's post.

Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Five vineyards contributed to the previous wine and the same number to this, emphasising the multi-region focus of Penfolds and again it has been in a mixture of oak for 12 months. It is a serious wine. “Nose is dark, palate also, ...quite complex… and can be laid down for a long period.” Notes indicate peak drinking between 2017 and 2030. Not bad though in 2015!

Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2013
I assume some of us were hoping that Andrew would pull a bottle of Grange out at the last minute! But he did come up with this beauty, also known as Baby Grange or Poor Man's Grange, in part because ”components of the wine are matured in the same barrels that held the previous vintage of Grange”.

Like Grange, it is a “judicious balance of fruit and oak". The fruit mix is Cabernet (51%) and Shiraz. It is quite complex both on the nose and on the palate (where the winery rating is expansive, explosive, exotic). It is made in the Penfolds style, richer, more tannic “and the time on lees gives more flavour.” Over time, the colours change, the wine softens out, the tannins too. Worth keeping by the sound of it! Indeed, peak drinking time is indicated as 2018-2035.

After the tasting, we had time for more chat and time too to enjoy some tasty nibbles from Victor and his team in the House Cafe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Superb Cono Sur & Penfolds Tasting in Cork, Part 1

Superb Cono Sur & Penfolds Tasting in Cork
Two of the world’s leading winemakers were in Cork last week for an unusual double tasting. Adolfo Hurtado came from Cono Sur in Chile to link up with Andrew Baldwin of Australia’s Penfolds. The event, in the Blue Angel Bar at the Opera House, was organised by Findlater Wines and was more a masterclass than your basic tasting. Lots of notes and photos were taken and it’s been a job to edit it all down to two posts, the first below features Adolfo and Cono Sur, the second (here) sees Penfolds in the spotlight with Andrew going solo!
Part One

Cono Sur
Adolfo Hurtado, MD and winemaker at Cono Sur, grew up on his father’s dairy farm in the beautiful Casablanca Valley in Chile. The young Adolfo was interested in farming and went on to study Agronomy and began to realise that he wanted to do winemaking. There was a tradition of winemaking on his mother’s side as her father had been a wine-maker.

We asked him about his and Cono Sur’s commitment to organic wine-making. It is not just about the photo opportunity that their geese (who gobble up the bad bugs!) and the bikes that get the workers around the vineyard provide!

“The country itself was the first motive,” he said to me in the Cork Opera House last Wednesday. At the end of the 20th century the Chilean land was “in extraordinarily good condition, diseases were absent and in 1998 we decided to use the advantages that Chile could offer”.
“Sure there is more paperwork but the possibility of replacing chemicals was an incentive. We couldn't use nitrogen anymore and that was a problem at first. But now “it is amazing, so healthy. And it is really beautiful now and the results are better.”

And Chile added to its natural isolation with strict controls to limit the access of four legged or winged creatures that might harm its vineyards and is determined to keep its land clean and healthy. The geographic isolation has four main features: desert (to the north), Andes (to the east), ice (to the south) and the Pacific (to the west)

The shape of the country too too helps it diversity as a wine-producer and remember that the diversity is found as much in an east-west direction as much as in the north-south line.

Cono Sur have some 400 acres certified as organic and many more acres are farmed in an organic way even if not certified as such.
Yours truly with Adolfo (left) and Andrew (right)

And some of the organic ways are so so simple. Here are two examples that Adolfo mentioned during the tasting. Remember those geese? Well they are there to stop the Burrito beatle. This beetle climbs the vine and can do huge damage. But a band (an INIA band) around the trunk of the vine halts its progress, it falls back down and then the geese go to work.

The California thrip is another big pest as it can damage the vine at its flowering stage. The solution is to plant rows of very colourful flowers between the vines. The thrip  now leaves the plain flower of the vine and heads for the “sexy” colourful flowers.

Talking to Adolfo you'll soon realise that Pinot Noir is a favourite of his. “It is our flagship, a most important wine for us. We bought an estate that had been planted with Pinot Noir in 1968 by the previous owners and in 90s we started at the block. Our first Pinot Noir was exported to Japan and the UK and they liked it. It became more and more popular and we are now the biggest Pinot Noir producer in the world, selling some 6,000,000 bottles annually.”

Does he think that Irish people know much about Chile, aside from its wines and footballers?
“Chile needs to be re-discovered and the perception has changed a lot. People from outside now think of it as being a really natural country, beautiful, even with volcanoes and earthquakes,  and are more interested in discovering it.”

While wines from Chile do very well in Ireland, Adolfo and his team still have much to do on the wider front. I pointed to the 2016 edition of the Hugh Johnson handbook where Switzerland has more space than Chile and where New Zealand has 11 pages of listings as against four for Chile.

Adolfo responded: “Chile had been known for its good value for years. And the challenge now is to get people to trade up, to get them to realise that Chile is also a producer of premium wines and that is why we organize events like today.”

We asked Adolfo to recommend a couple of wines to an Irish consumer that was interested in starting to explore Chile and he picked two from their Bicicleta range, the Cabernet Sauvignon and, of course, the Pinot Noir! Cheers.
Concentration from Cork's own Chilean, Francisca!
The Cono Sur Tasting
20 Barrels Sauvignon Blanc 2015
From the El Centinela vineyard in the Casablanca, this brings with it “a hint of saltiness” from the nearby ocean. “It is mostly citrus with great concentration and a nice minerality”. And a lovely freshness that could be applied to all three whites.
20 Barrels Chardonnay 2014
Adolfo wasn't convinced of the usefulness of concrete eggs in the vineyard until he tried them with this, 10% in eggs, the balance in new French barrels. “The egg helps with complexity, good for the palate, doesn't do much for the aromas.” Another delicious white with good balance and, yes, those salt elements again. It comes from the same estate as the Sauvignon blanc.
Single Vineyard Riesling 2015
This one is from the cool south, from the Bio Bio (pronounced bee-o, bee-o) valley. It has a nice concentration and “the six grams of residual sugar helps the balance”. You’ll find note of flowers, apricots, peaches and grapefruit. But no petrol. You might get that next year when it has spent 10-12 months in the bottle. This was bottled just last August.

Ocio Pinot Noir 2013
This is Cono Sur's “first ultra premium Pinot Noir”. Ocio, pronounced Ossio, means leisure (your time to enjoy). Think you could enjoy this beauty at any time. Adolfo certainly does and told us his favourite match with this Casablanca wine, produced just 30 kilometers from the ocean, is Tuna with blueberry sauce.

Silencio Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Adolfo and Cono Sur are also very proud of the Silencio, recent winner of the Best Red Wine in Chile award. It comes from Alto Maipo, close to Santiago. The aging process consists of 22 months in French oak (100% new, medium toast), two months in stainless steel and two years in bottle. Full of character, silky with “deep concentration” it is another winner from Cono Sur, a winner with an aging potential of at least 10-15 years, maybe longer!

Go to Part 2, featuring Penfolds
Findlater's Ken Kinsella enjoyed that one!

Part Two tomorrow feature's Penfolds winemaker Andrew Baldwin

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sauvignon Blanc. Graham Norton in on the act! Cono Sur's Silencio best in Chile

Noble Grape Sauvignon Blanc
Graham Norton in on the act!
And Cono Sur's Silencio best in Chile.

Sauvignon blanc is one of the best known and best loved grapes on the planet. The Loire Valley is regarded as its heartland but it thrives too in New Zealand, especially in Marlborough, and in Chile and indeed in many other places around the world.

And it is to New Zealand that West Cork born Graham Norton went to try his hand at making a bottle. Personality in a bottle or a personality with a bottle? The answer is somewhere in between.  

Cono Sur Reserva Especial Sauvignon blanc 2013, Valle de Casablanca (Chile), 12.5%, €13.99 Bradley’s Offlicence

According to the recent Wines of South America, Cono Sur (the first winery to be recognised as carbon neutral) is “one of the most consistent and reliable wineries in the country”. The country is, of course, Chile, and this is an excellent example and Very Highly Recommended.

The pale gold colour is bright and healthy looking and there are fresh aromas of white fruit and blossoms. Fruit flavours in the crisp and elegant palate, lively acidity and a decent finish too. Ideal as an aperitif or with seafood dishes.

Graham Norton’s Sauvignon blanc 2015, Marlborough (New Zealand), 12.5%, €12.00 at SuperValu from November 6th

Norton is a shareholder in the Invivo Winery and the wines for blending were brought to him in London. Winemaker Rob Cameron came too and together they came up with a wine that quickly won a string of awards.

Critics say:
“Fresh and lively… fabulous juicy finish”.
“Tongue tingling….full of punch and personality”.
“Savvie….full of lime zest.”
Norton says: “It’s lovely! Tropical fruit...a bit of zing...cheers to that!”

Colour is just about present with hints of green. Aromas are fresh, white fruit, some herbal elements too. There is a generous flush of freshness and fruit, matched immediately by balancing acidity (just like a Norton put-down!). Must admit this is an excellent drop indeed (unlike his red chair!) and Highly Recommended.

Emiliana Sauvignon blanc 2014, DO Valle Central (Chile), 12.5%, €12.95 Bradley’s
This is an organic wine by Eco Balance, made for “relaxed everyday enjoyment. Integrity, sustainability and an earth friendly focus inspires all that we do”.

This is light yellow, green also evident, clear and bright. Aromas include herbal elements, white fruits too (including grapefruit). It is fresh and fruity with a zingy acidity, a decent mouthfeel and a moderate finish. Very good value and Recommended.

More good news for Cono Sur and chief wine-maker Adolfo Hurtado. Their Silencio Cabernet Sauvignon, launched in Dublin 12 months ago,  has been named as the best red wine in Chile, gaining an unprecedented 98 points.