A Tale of Two Pinots


Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2011two-pinots-1

Price: $10.95 LCBO

Alcohol: 13.5%

Origin: Rapel sub-region of Central Valley of Chile

Soil/Climate: Alluvial and gravel/The Rapel sub-region of the Central Valley is quite hilly and so is subject to many and varied mesoclimates and is better well-known for its Merlot wines than Pinot Noir. It’s also quite a dry area, where irrigation is necessary but this is good for Pinot, which can over-plump and become easily watered down with too much rain.

Colour/Clarity: A bright, fuchsia wine like fresh berry juice, very light and clear. Not much change in colour from the centre out to the walls of the glass with a completely transparent meniscus.

Nose: On the first inhalation I smell exactly what I see: fresh, tart raspberry, blackberry and currant. After a bit of air and agitation, the earthy, leatheriness you find in older world styles starts to emerge. A nice combination of fruit and more tertiary aromas.

Flavour profile: The first sip is very tart and I am immediately overwhelmed by the acidity. This is likely because the wine is still quite cool. It’s very smooth and soft with no tannins to speak of—typical of pinot noir. It definitely needs more than a few minutes of air to open up. I’ll come back to it in about 10 minutes or so.


L: Pelee Island Alvar R: Cono Sur Bicicleta

In the meantime…

Alvar Pinot Noir 2011 Pelee Island VQA

Price: $14.95 LCBO

Alcohol: 13%

Origin: Pelee Island, southernmost tip of Canada

Soil/Climate: Named after the area of the vineyard it grows in—an alvar ecosystem is a “limestone plain with thin or no soil.” The region also enjoys a long, warm growing season with lake winds to ward off fungus and regulate the temperature so that grapes don’t over-ripen.

Colour/Clarity: A light, clear garnet. You can’t really see it in the comparison image above but in comparison to the Cono Sur, it is a little deeper red. Though it is also fairly uniform from centre to rim and transparent at the very edge.

Nose: An earthy style with more savoury aromas and less fruit right off the bat. The tasting notes describe “red berries, plums and cherries” as well as tomato (which is more what I’m picking up). Personally, I got less of the berries and plums but got some cherry.

Flavour: This is a beefier, rounder Pinot with a more tannic presence than the Chilean and less tart and well balanced. It will stand up well to a variety of meals or could be enjoyed easily on its own.

In conclusion…

I would say the Pelee Island Alvar is more balanced and refined—which would account for it’s slightly higher price tag. The Ontario would likely pair better with food whereas the Cono Sur is lovely to enjoy on it’s own, though is also excellent on a weeknight dinner with some grilled veggie pizza. And after some time sitting while I tasted the second wine, it’s definitely lost a bit of its sharpness, making it much more enjoyable the second time around. Either way, both offer excellent value and are respectable New World styles sure to please anyone who appreciates the many faces of Pinot Noir.


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