Cheap Wines Don’t Always Taste Cheap: Take Cono Sur – please!

Ok, I admit I was wrong. I was a snob and now I realize it. I let a few unsatisfactory bottlings taint my perception of a whole producer and subsequently, I missed out. It’s true, but now I’m here to say that not all Cono Sur wines taste as cheaply as they’re priced.

Perhaps my bias started with the name, Cono Sur, which sounds like a cutesy Chilean play on the word “connoisseur,” which remains my top hardest word to spell. I thought no wine that pretended to have good taste could taste good and when I tried the Merlot my suspicions were confirmed. Later, I found the Cabernet to be total plonk. No wonder they commanded a price of ten bucks.

More recently, my fellow wine slut, Ivana, suggested the Cono Sur Gewürztraminer and I went for it. That half-full bottle sat in my fridge for weeks. It tasted cheap, unbalanced and kind of sour.

Two weeks ago, Jurgen Gothe proclaimed “the entire Cono Sur portfolio of varietals from Chile” as being the “top of the list, best of the deals,” and singled out the 2007 Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer as the top two. Dunno, Jurgen “entire” is a very large concept. Just because they are all affordable at $10.99 doesn’t make them all drinkable.

Then, Ivana suggested I try the Pinot Noir, saying “try it, you’ll like it,” like an old Alka Seltzer commercial. So, ok, I tried it and hey, guess what? I kinda liked it!

The Cono Sur 2007 Pinot Noir is like a warm cherry pie with a little char on the crust. Nice, but imperfect. On the nose, the cherry fruit smells baked – in a good way – and has a little hint of road tar. On the palate, there is some heat, but there is good balance, the lack of which would scream cheapness to me. It’s cherries and raspberries feel warm and cozy as a wool sweater and white pepper is sprinkled throughout. The finish is less than satisfying, but still. It’s a $12 Pinot. It’s not a bad wine. I would even go so far as to say this wine is very, very not bad. For a Pinot from an undesignated region, it could be worse, like Vin de Pays worse. And with a screwtop, Cono Sur scores extra points on my blog.

So there. I’ve come around. Cono Sur wines are not all total plonk and they can only better. It just goes to show nothing is forever in the wine world.

Mari Kane

Mari is a writer, blogger and WordPress consultant, living in Vancouver, BC, the most wine-soaked town north of the 49th Parallel. She also blogs about WordPress web design at Blogsite Follow her on Twitter or Google Plus.