Ocio 2009 by Cono Sur (Chile, Casablanca Valley)

Ocio is THE Pinot Noir of Cono Sur and probably one of the most ambitious of Chile.

The grapes come from the Casablanca Valley, one of the coldest and best place in Chile, with a much cooler climate than most other regions. Soil is sandy with a bit of clay, climate of 2009 was rather good (especially compared to the quite bad 2008). It has been all manually handled and spent 14 month in oak barrels.

First, I must say that I open this wine probably a bit too early as it will probably improve and be at its best in 3 to 5 years.

The color is deep… really deep dark ruby with almost purple reflections (which is not common in a Pinot Noir). It is almost impossible to see through. The nose is very concentrated and shows hints of pepper, dark ripe fruits. Black cherries, plums… it is not overripe aromas but on the verge of excess. The mouth is surprisingly tannic for a Pinot Noir but it is quite soft. We find back the same aromas and the fruit again, but rather on the sweet side. The length is good but not astonishing, and so is the general complexity.

So is it a good wine? Well that is a difficult question. As a Pinot Noir, it is definitely not a good one. The wine is so over extracted and over ripe that it displays none of the character of the Pinot. It rather taste like a Syrah! Otherwise, one cannot say that it is bad. The balance is good, the aromas are pleasant. It is a bit heavy and a bit simple but this should improve. However as an Icon wine of Cono Sur, this is a failure. We do taste a good wine but nothing exceptional. At Alko’s price, it was absolutely a NO-Buy (over 50€), but you can still find it around 35€ at Helsinki-Vantaa airport or on Viking Line.

Wineops’ rating: 75/100 ; 5 +

Ocio 2009 by Cono Sur

ALKO: Adobe Reserva Syrah-Mourvèdre-Merlot 2010 by Emiliana (Chile, Rapel Valley)

Emiliana is a well known producer of Chile, located in the Central Valley. Here in Finland, it is famous for being an organic (luomu) grower. Previously I have not been totally convinced by their icon wine called Coyam. It is a good wine but nothing extraordinary.

Adobe is their mid-range brand. Wines that are available here around 10€. They are in the category « Reserva », meaning that they aged a bit or a lot in oak barrels.

This Adobe Red is very surprising when you consider the blend. Syrah and Mourvèdre are commonly blended in Languedoc or in the Rhône Valley, but never with Merlot, which is a grape from south-western France. I honestly must say that I doubted the result. Merlot is a common « blend partner » because it has a great ability to smoother the edge of more powerful grapes. For instance, it is known for its quality, when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon like in Bordeaux or with Malbec, like in Cahors. Both Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec being grapes with very powerful structure in terms of tannins and mouthfeel. Merlot has then the effect of bringing out a more soft and expressive fruit while making the tannins less harsh. But when it comes to Syrah and Mourvèdre, these are two grapes not very full of tannins with aromas like spices, aromatic herbs, pepper, game… fruit is only secondary. As a result, blending all of them will make Syrah and Mouvèdre lose most of their personality and thus most of their interest.

This is no surprise in the glass. The wine is very plain. True, the oak aging is very well handled with no excess, but the aromatics are just not interesting. In the palate, the structure is ok, a little bit light, but again it does not work in term of taste. This is extremely boring. I would not advise this wine, even if it is technically well made.

Wineops’ rating: 57/100 ; 0 0

Link to Alko’s page: HERE.

ALKO: Malbec from Chile vs. Malbec from Argentina

Earlier this week I had the idea to compare two wine from ALKO which were close to each other in many aspects: they are made from the same grape, they cost the same and they are more or less made the same way. These wines were two Malbecs.

They were Malbec Reserva 2009 by Viña Montes and Malbec 2010 by Alamos.

It is indeed sad that the vintage was not the same but it is less a concern as when it comes to « old world » wines. The big, the main difference between the two is geographical. Viña Montes is a prominent Chilean winery, located in the Colchagua Valley. Their Icon wine are Montes Alpha M or Montes Folly. Alamos is a winery located in Argentina, Mendoza and is connected to the prestigious Catena Zapata winery. They can arguably be considered as one of the very best winemakers of whole Argentina. Basically, we have in front of us the entry level of two of the best wineries of South America.

My opinion about these wine producers, I shall give you right now. I really love the work done by the Catena family. They work quite in the old world way, stressing on terroir and trying to make wines that are true to their origins. Also these are wines not designed to be award winers, with for instance a clever management of the ripening process and a reasonable use of oak. I cannot but advise you to taste, at least once, the top wines from this estate. On the contrary Montes wines are much more modern. They are very demonstrative, concentrated fruit bombs. Always on the top in wine tasting panels (when you  taste without food), they tend to be very awkward on a table. The reasons for that is a choice to pick extremely ripe fruit and make an extensive use of new oak (both French and American). As a result these are often wines that will blow you mind with the first glass and then get you bored or tired because of their lack of balance.

The confrontation was very interesting. First, Montes:

The Malbec Reserva 2009 by Montes is a little big wine. Little because this is not the top range wine but big by the mouthfeel. In the nose, it is very ripe dark fruit, almost jammy. There is a strong oaky dominant: cacao, vanilla and a touch of coco. The wine is far more pleasant than 6 month ago. In the mouth we are struck by the alcohol level and the residual sugar (maybe 3-4 g/l). The wine displays little awkwardness and is not so great in the long term. However it was much better after 6 to 12h opening. The main difficulty with this wine will be to find a good pairing. It will go along many meals but it will not be perfect with any.

Wineops rating: 64/100 ; 0 0 (69/100 after 6h)

Overall the Alamos Malbec 2010 proved to be much more balanced. The nose presented a dominant of fresh red fruit underlined by a nice vegetal touch. Mouth was fresh and balanced, completely dry and with very pleasant tannins. It is a good and food friendly wine. It will fit well with grilled meat and stew. On the opposite of the Montes, it did not improve after opening. In my opinion this is a prefect example of the connexion between a grape and a location. Mendoza definitely IS the place for Malbec whereas Chile is just a possible match.

Wineops rating: 70/100 ; 0 0

Link to ALKO: HERE and THERE