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hot pinots from chile

vina cono sur pinot noir 'ocio' casablanca valley

A couple of contrasting examples of Chilean Pinot Noir for you this time. The first is one of Decanter’s “Top 50 New World Pinot Noirs”, the second didn’t gain that honour. And, true to my title, both are ‘hot’, one with alcohol, the other – punished by my writing – in the sense of American sexual slang.

Secano Estate Pinot Noir 2006, Leyda Valley try to find this wine...
Leyda is one of the most promising sites for Pinot Noir in Chile, supposedly (I’ve never been there) cooled by sea breezes. I’ve had several good Pinot’s from this region, but this, Decanter **** rated or not, is not one of them:
Very deep pure ruby, narrow paler rim shows almost clear. Dark and dirty nose – there is dark cherry, chocolate and well-rotted horse manure here. Really very good – apart from a slight, spicy, hot, alcoholic overtone. Mouth entry is sweet and round – really jammy and alcoholic. There is good black cherry and dark plum fruit, with earthy, dark chocolate flavours too, but then the heat gets too much for me to keep it in my mouth. The finish is hot and sweet, with just a touch of acidity, and reminds me of flavoured vodka. Making allowances for my aversion to excessive alcohol, I just manage to give this 2/5.

Viña Cono Sur Pinot Noir ‘Ocio’ 2006, Casablanca Valley try to find this wine...
Deep limpid ruby, touched with purple; barely any paler rim. Fresh, lively and refined nose. Lovely fresh cherry and plum fruit, and the merest hint of sousbois. Barely detectable oak. Super stuff. Mouth entry is amzingly supple, with lush fruit and a nice earthiness to it. Mid-palate shows really good sappy density and great balance – just detectable tannins and acidity. Very composed and nicely cool fruit. Great poise. On the finish there is dark fruit, more earthiness and just the merest hint of heat. This is a very, very good example. A super, well-made wine, and better than many a Burgundy, but it just doesn’t speak to me of a place – of its ‘terroir’. Oh – I almost forgot – this is a 4/5.

The 2005 – reviewed here is, for me, a better wine – quite a bit fresher and without even that trace of excessive alcohol.

And finally, in case you are wondering, an editorial note: I do not write on here about any wine we are selling or intend to sell.

11 responses to “hot pinots from chile”

  1. Wo;;

    The Ocio sounds like a good wine, but at the price one has to ask the question ‘Why bother?’

  2. bmcq

    Numbers? NUMBERS!!!???

    Say it’s not so Bill!

    Recant that decant: the scores are but bores: digits are for ijits.

    Please excuse my rant, but isn’t the reduction of reality into a well ordered continuum an exercise for the sophmore?

  3. billn

    @bmcq – not guilty m’lud – but you spotted that I didn’t write it though didn’t you. Peter has a lot to answer for… 😉

  4. bmcq

    Authorship asie, I’m surprised your site is so sullied. 😉

  5. Peter S

    Dear bmcq,

    OK, so you didn’t like the numbers. Did you like the words ? Or are they irredeemably sullied by association ?

    Every time I taste, I score – almost a professional tic – and it’s certainly useful to me, though perhaps less so to others.

    All my posts up to now have avoided scores, as I knew it was the style here. I think I got sucked into it this time as a reaction against the Decanter rating, and I would be quite happy for Bill to edit the numbers out.

    But I would also be interested to hear what other readers think about “guest” scores.


    It is indeed a good wine, and perhaps rather more “reliable” than a Burgundy from the supermarket at the same price. For those who can find their way around choosing Burgundy and when to drink it, then – as you point out – it doesn’t stack up. It’s darn close though.

  6. bmcq

    My apologies. I churlishly assumed I had a wee bit of cachet in the tongue-in-cheek department. My bad.

    Really, this is a superb site all round and I greatly appreciate the well wrought style and musings of all contributors.

  7. Peter S

    No problem, but humour (even if I don’t get it – apologies, I haven’t read many of your comments) always has a core of truth. Is it important that this site keeps away from scores ?

  8. bmcq

    I position myself as no grand tirebiter of wine or websites.

    But in my own little n-dimensional sphere, I recognize the virtues of scoring and certainly of numbers, numerals and orderings. But the question is whether such surjective reductions warrant the loss in discussion, interpretation and >>>art<<<.

    I do think that your hpb use of a 3 dimensional graph is extremely novel, valuable and appropos.

    In the end, I personally value more greatly the words, even if I don’t always understand them. Truth for me, thankfully, remains a wild and elusive thing. Numbers give some the hallucination that we’re closing in on it. Words provide me more with the joy of the hunt.

  9. billn

    Ah, what nice people we have here – everyone has a different comfort zone, just like they have different tastes – but points or no points, it’s all about the wine.

    Other than finding points being rather too abstract for an engaging glass of wine, I just consider myself too stupid to mark an additional glass of the same wine on the same evening with the same score, it will depend on:

    • How much I’ve drunk
    • How much I’ve eaten
    • What I’ve eaten
    • How close is it to bedtime

    Objectively, the relative balance, tannin and acidity remain constant, but for wines of resonance like Burgundy, I don’t even attempt to put a value on engagement, or even emotion…

    PS Tirebiting – seems to have a following

  10. bmcq

    Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers.

    1. billn

      I’m pretty sure the dog was cuter…

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