Cono Sur’s Organic Cab-Carmenere :: Chile

My friend Karen has one of the same bad habits I do: buying wine simply because the label is pretty, interesting or unusual.

It’s the same way I bought record albums decades ago. It meant listening to some pretty bad music and today it means tasting some not-so-great wine. But last month Karen found a winner all around: great label and great wine in the form of Cono Sur winery’s Organic Cabernet/Carmenere blend.

At $10-$12 a bottle, it’s my new favorite “every day red.�? The fact that the grapes are grown and the wine produced organically is a plus.

The bicycle on the label got Karen’s attention as she was browsing a tiny shop in the quaint artsy river town of Salida, Colorado. She took a bottle home, tasted it, went back and bought a case. When she gave me a bottle, I tasted it and told her to go get me a case. She bought all that the store had left.

I usually like wines that are dry as dirt, but the Cono Sur blend has enough fruit to give it some texture with a little smokiness from aging in French oak barrels.

The organic red is just one of several wines offered by Cono Sur, a winery that has no allegiance to any one of Chile’s grape-growing valleys. Instead, the company grows and harvests about 2,500 acres of vineyards in 40 estates throughout the Elqui, Limari, Casablanca, Leyda, Maipo, Cachapoal, Colchagua, Cauquenes and Bio-Bio valleys.

The green bicycle image on the paper grocery bag-colored label of the organic Cab-Carmenere honors the most popular form of transportation for the winery’s workers — an eco-friendly form of transportation. The organic product line has been dedicated to the company’s employees and launched a “drink green�? company effort.

Cono Sur now is on a quest to produce what it says will be the best Pinot Noir in Chile. The project, started in 1999, makes Pinot Noir as traditionally made in Burgundy. Cono Sur’s project seems to be working — the affordable 06 Pinot is getting rave reviews.

For details about all of Cono Sur’s wines, in Spanish and English, go to

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