Chile is known for their cool climate varietals, most notably sauvignon blanc for the whites and carmenere for the red table wines but I recently had a sparkler from Cono Sur that certainly knocked my socks off.
I was tasting Cono Sur’s wines with the winemaker and globe trotting ambassador of Cono Sur, Adolfo Hurtado. Adolfo gets to London once a year or so and it was a pleasure to see him again. He is such a passionate wine maker and really cares about not only the wines but also the environment and he and Cono Sur have been in the forefront of sustainable winemaking in Chile.
Cono Sur was one of the first wineries to become certified carbon neutral in South America and firmly believe in using as many sustainable practices as possible as well as having fully organic vineyards. This is not the first time I’ve met Adolfo and you can read a more in-depth review of all their viticultural practices on my blog here.
As a bit of a twist, Cono Sur had done a bit of food and wine matching and we were trying their sparkling wine with a sashimi! And why not? Champagne and other sparklers are very good matches for Japanese food in general. The bubbles seem to have an easier time of it cutting through all the various flavours that are encompassed in Japanese cuisine while still being able to retain their freshness and acidity. The seabass sashimi was duly put in front of us and we began the tasting.
The grapes in the sparkling Brut NV come from the cool climate Bio Bio Valley and spend 5 months on the lees. A blend of 90% Chardonnay, 6% Pinot Noir and for a change, 4% riesling makes for an interesting combination. When I asked Adolfo why riesling, he replied that just that little bit of Riesling gives the wine added freshness and good acidity, it also adds a bit of a limey finish to the wine and is an overall enhancer to the other grapes in the blend.
Despite the fact that it’s an NV, the wine had a bit of a bready nose to it, probably from those 5 months on the lees as well as being quite aromatic, notes of citrus and very faintly white flowers coming from the glass. Lively little bubbles emanating from all over the bottom of the glass, quite an elegant wine and extremely fresh! Light and crisp with heaps of lime notes and echos of the lees following on the palate. This was a genuine palate cleanser and worked with the sea bass while at the same time not being pummeled into submission by the strong flavours of the wasabi and soy sauce.
I could see this as being both a refreshing aperitif or working throughout the meal, especially with Japanese cuisine where there are so many umami and strong flavours. The best thing about the Cono Sur Sparkling NV is the price. A snip at £8.99 retail, how can you not take this one home? I’d also recommend it if you see it on a restaurant list as a cheaper alternative to champagne and as a crisper alternative to Prosecco.