- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cono Sur, Pinot Noir, Central Valley, Chile, 2007, $9.

Finding a good bottle of pinot noir for less than $10 can be akin to locating the proverbial needle in a haystack. Most inexpensive renditions of this notoriously fickle grape taste either hot and chunky or thin and vegetal. They’re dreadful. Quality starts to improve at $25 or so (though not always) but that’s more than many of us want to spend.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I tried this wine from Chile, a country with a stellar track record with cabernet and other hearty red Bordeaux varietals but not much history with delicate pinot. It offered genuine varietal flavor, meaning cherry-flavored fruit with spicy echoes, and felt appropriately smooth and soft in my mouth. This grape’s greatest claim to fame is its seductively silky texture. Many $30 examples fail to deliver, but this $9 one did.

Because its flavors are relatively simple, this is not a truly great example of pinot noir. Yet it outperforms many wines that cost considerably more and is a fantastic choice for everyday dining or casual entertaining. Try it with roast chicken, and on a warm evening, don’t be afraid to serve it slightly chilled.

Imported by Vineyard Brands.

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