TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



Cono Sur, Pinot Noir, 2009

Posted by Torsten 17 Mar 2011

Recently, I have had a lot of cheap, in fact very cheap supermarket wine. As this experience wasn't always enjoyable, I set out to find an affordable wine available on the mass market that I could like, to show it can be done. Remembering some pleasant encounters with wines from the Chilean Cono Sur estate, I grabbed a bottle of their Pinot Noir, sold at £6.49. What can you expect from such a wine?

Making good Pinot Noir is not cheap, and if you consider taxes and duties in the UK this is a very low price. Certainly the cheapest I remember seeing around for a while.

The colour is reassuringly deep, the nose is fruit driven. You get plum, cherry and meaty strawberry - there is an almost savoury nutritiousness to the nose, enhance by bread/dough aromas and some sweet marzipan. On the tongue I found the wine a little sharp at first, but it mellowed with air.
It was less sophisticated to drink than the nose made me expect, but had decent acidity and fruit, especially an almost chocolatey strawberry with more cocoa in the finish; tannins are reasonably well integrated too. Most importantly it is pleasant to drink, not an intellectual challenge, but it also does not feel industrial or cheaply oaked to death either.

Yes, there are better Pinots than the Cono Sur, but show me one available in the UK at this price.

sweet pinot?

For the first time at a German wine tasting, this week I had a number of sweeter reds. Have you had any of these? It was a whole new tasting experience.


sweet German reds

It is interesting that you raised the issue of sweet German reds. Usually, people think of Germany when sweet white wines are being mentioned (I guess the reason that they don't think of reds is that not that many people beyond the wine trade associate Germany with red wines); and they may also think of sweet white wines being rubbish.

I love sweet white wines, good ones that is, but my first reaction when you mentioned sweet German reds was scepticism. The sweet German reds I have come across so far were mostly cheap wines that did not have much to offer in quality and should be avoided. The wine merchants and wineries I buy my wine from don't seem to do sweet(ish) German reds, so I have mostly missed out on this. I have tried a lovely Pinot Noir Beerenauslese though, but that was Austrian...

So it seems you know more about this than I do, at least as far as quality sweet German reds are concerned (at least I hope the wines you tasted were good).

Either way, to avoid confusions for those readers just quickly scanning this post: the Chileans Pinot here is definitely of the dry variety.


One reason is because if you

One reason is because if you grow Pinot Noir in a cooler but dry climate, it's easy and works much cheaper as in moistier wine regions.


That's interesting to hear,

That's interesting to hear, Gottfried. I would also assume that labour and land will be cheaper in Chile, which is another reason. All welcome news for the British consumer as taxes and duties on alcohol are very high here.

You may find it interesting that the same supermarket chain are also selling a Grüner Veltliner for roughly the same price, made by Huber. This may be the only wine I have bought in a UK supermarket at this price range that was on the same quality level as the Chilean Pinot. Well done, Austria!