Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery was founded in 1993, with the vision of producing premium, expressive and innovative wines that convey the spirit of the New World. Their name refers to the company’s geographic position, representing wines made in South America’s Southern Cone, on whose western edge lies Chile and its wine valleys.
The Bicicleta range is easily recognisable with a bicycle featured on all their labels. I find it interesting that this wine company in Chile has an ongoing partnership with the Tour de France — in France!
So let us go to a place that many call the end of the World, or as the locals say “where it all begins”. Towering mountains, a vast ocean, ancient glaciers and the driest place on Earth all offer protection, so it is easy to farm sustainably, honour the environment and not even need to graft their vines to North American root stocks to avoid the dreaded phylloxera.
Pinot Noir presents the biggest challenge for winemakers and this usually makes it difficult to find one that is enjoyable for us on a regular basis, but for just $14.85 Cono Sur Bicicleta 2016 Pinot Noir is yours.
Dressed in fresh purple-red colour, this is a voluptuous Pinot Noir with rich fruit notes of cherry, raspberry, plum and strawberry — a red fruit party — enhanced by subtle smokey hints. In the mouth, sweet fruit notes stand out and its fine tannins give it a great texture and a mouth-filling structure. Balanced and New World styled, this is a wine of personality and elegance. Sexy, pure and simple, it’s a young and refreshing Pinot. This is an example of how lower land and labour costs and even a friendly climate can translate into a real bargain.
Cono Sur Bicileta Merlot 2015 is also $14.85, in fact the whole Bicycle range (except one) is this price. Chile is so well known for producing wines from this grape that I have to share a story with you.
Although grown since the 1850s, grape growers in Chile were puzzled why some of their vines took so long to ripen. After all, the word Merlot is French for a little blackbird, as the grapes are first to mature, well ahead of Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux, and the birds go for them.
In 1994, a famous French botanist arrived in Chile to try to solve the problem.
He told the vineyard owners that they actually had the believed-to-be extinct Carmerere vines mixed in with their Merlot. Now they have been separated and the later picked Carmenere is lovely and the early harvested Merlot is as it should be.
This Bicileta Merlot wine’s plum-red colouring is dark and intense. In the nose there are concentrated notes of black fruit and soft hints of sweet toasted oak. The palate surprises with its excellent structure, balanced acidity, fruity intensity and pleasantly ripe tannins.
Cono Sur Bicicleta 2015 Chardonnay has a beautiful, yellow colouring with golden hints. Exuberant and complex, this wine conveys refreshing citrus aromas, fruity notes of white peaches and mineral hints. In the mouth, complex fruity flavours mingle in with lovely mineral notes. Our Bicicleta Chardonnay is young and fresh, very balanced, with a great acidity. $14.85.
For our island of Sauvignon Blanc aficionados I will mention Cono Sur Bicileta Sauvignon Blanc, even if we may be out of stock. It is scheduled to arrive in “early September”.
I will quote the winery “Elegant, expressive and dressed in a green-yellow colouring, this Sauvignon Blanc impresses with its citrus notes of grapefruit and green apple, which mingle with herbal hints.
In the mouth, its freshness and balance stand out in particular, along with its citric notes and pleasant mineral ending. It is a little less than the others at $13.80.
Let me just add that we also have their Cabernet Sauvignon and for $14.85 you get a deep, impressive ruby-red colour that suggests concentrated grapes harvested at just the right moment. This Cabernet Sauvignon’s nose is governed by pleasant notes of plum, raspberry and sweet spices, while in the mouth, chocolate and subtle hints of vanilla can be appreciated.
• This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St. George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm.</i>