Wine Blogging Wednesday #52: an inexpensive organic red from Chile

When I heard about the theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday number 52, Value Reds From Chile, proposed by Tim of the Cheap Wine Ratings blog, I knew that it was right up my alley. After all, for Wine Blogging Wednesday #48, when Lenn Thompson asked us to go back to our roots, to the first wines we liked to drink, I went straight back to Chilean cabernets.

And since, as far as I’m concerned, the most interesting ones are generally under 20$ (or only a little above that), it wasn’t too difficult to follow Tim’s lead and stay under the 20$ line.

But beyond the price, I thought I’d try to find something more. Like, say, organic or biodynamic, something which is still a little too rare in the offerings from Chile’s vineyards. After tasting a bottle of Antiyal, a delicious, serious, generous, yet not overbearing organically/biodynamically-farmed carmenère-based wine from Alvaro Espinoza, earlier this fall, I have certainly been thinking that more of this stuff should come on our shelves.

At well over 40$ a bottle, the Antiyal didn’t fit the WBW category, however. But searching for my WBW Chilean through the shelves at the SAQ store, the other day, I saw a Cono Sur 2006 Cabernet sauvignon/Carmenère blend from the Colchagua Valley, made from organically grown grapes, looked at the price tag (15$) and figured I was in business.

And, well, I was, pretty much. With its lovely, peony color, somewhere between red and purple, the wine displays very pleasant aromas, starting with the classic eucalyptus/smoke and menthol trademark of Chilean cab, but in no obtrusive way. Cherry and red currant, with a little black tea and herbal touch… There’s just a bit of candyish fruit that I would do without, but otherwise, pretty great.

Taking a good sip, you get a fair amount of red fruit, with some prune compote kicking in (from cold soak, maybe?), and a soft palate with very smooth tannins. Maybe even a little too smooth, really. But mind you, with the nice acidity and the unexcessive alcohol level (13.5%), the wine just drinks itself.

I tasted the wine again yesterday night, and it was still fine. If anything, it tasted fresher, with some fine herb notes I hadn’t previously noticed, but still that little candyish touch I can’t figure exactly. Still very drinkable.

Medium-bodied, it felt a little light with the chicken fajitas we were having as I first tasted it on Sunday night. It would probably go better with veal (throw in some rosemary) or a simple grilled meat. Better yet, a roast chicken.

It’s not necessarily the best wine from Chile I’ve had for under 20$: the Cousino-Macul Antiguas Riserva remains my favorite, and has shown great aging potential over the 15 years I’ve been drinking it. But along with a very nice 2006 The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon from d’Arenberg, which also displayed nice balance and drinkability, the Cono Sur is certainly making my perspectives on New World Cabernet more favorable.

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I find it interesting that many people participating in WBW is drinking Cono Sur.

  2. An interesting coincidence. The WBW posts are all done independently. It must mean something about Cono Sur’s product line in the under 20$ range.

    The clinching factor, for me, was the organic aspect, strictly. If I’d had Chono, another organic line from Alvaro Espinoza, on hand, I would probably have gone for that. Very solid wines, in the under 20$ price range.

  3. I didn’t have much to choose from, living in the sticks like I do and not thinking far enough ahead to mail order something!

    I got “candy-ish fruit” as well in the Santa Rita Reserva cab I tried–I called it berry/cherry Hawaaian punch!

    I also tasted a Casa Lapostolle which didn’t have that “candy” taste.

    Maybe it’s “Skittles”?

  4. oh, and my posts about WBW 52 are at http://winepredator.wordpress.com

  5. Sounds perfectly serviceable. And bonus points for find an organic wine!

  6. I agree with Dale… thanks for highlighting an organic wine. I’ve found a lot of producers in Chile employing organic farming techniques, which certainly deserves some attention.

  7. I like the Chono line of wines but they do tend to be rather big and syrupy, loads of fruit.

    Could it be that everyone picked Cono Sur becuase it’s the most accessible?

    Living in London, which I think Chile has really concentrated on marketing to, try the Anakena or De Martino – check out my pick for WBW #52 – http://winesleuth.wordpress.com/2008/12/11/873/

  8. Syrupy? Chono? That wasn’t quite my impression. But maybe we didn’t have the same wines from that line.

    I liked the De Martino wines. I see them a bit less on the market, here in Quebec, than I did a few years back, however. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the Anakena.


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