2021 Cono Sur Pinot Noir Rosé, Chile (Alcohol 13%, 6.5 g/l Residual Sugar) LCBO $12.50 (750ml bottle)

Having been such a loyal consumer of the Cono Sur Viognier for so many years now (I probably drank more of this that anyone else on the planet during lockdown), I was kind-of hoping to find similar punching-waaaaaay-above-its-weight attributes in this Pinot Noir rosé from the same stable. I should have known better.

The varietal labelling of Pinot Noir should have been my first red flag, but I barrelled forward with my purchase of two bottles, hoping to enjoy some crisp, clean, vibrant rosé on the sunny shores of Lake Huron later that afternoon.

You see, inexpensive decent Pinot Noir is an oxymoron, even when made in the rosé style. I’m sorry, it just cannot be done. When I used to be utterly masochistic and judge wines in competition, the inexpensive Pinot flights were always the worst… well, apart from judging Icewines, but that’s a story for another day.

Judging inexpensive Pinot Nor is simply torturous. Much to the chagrin of other judges and competition organisers, I often disregarded entire flights of the stuff, as for me they. more often than not, had no redeemable qualities whatsoever. Their aromatic profiles simply bore no resemblance to Pinot Noir in any which way.

Which brings me to this dreadful wine…

Does it smell like Pinot Noir? Does it ****.

It smells like the leaking batteries one finds in a long ago-forgotten flashlight/torch hidden at the back of one’s closet when spring cleaning; it happened to me just the other week, so the offensive olfactory memory is still fresh. In short, it smells rank and so very un-Pinot Noir-like. If this was made saignée, that is, bled off from the main Pinot Noir production, a by-product, if you will, then that more concentrated Pinot is going to be utterly crap too. I guess Cono Sur saw an opportunity in the still burgeoning rosé market and thought “Hey, let’s sell all that rancid just-pink juice we usually sell off to be distilled into industrial alcohol”, or rather “Oye, vendamos todo ese jugo rancio que solemos vender para destilarlo en alcohol industrial”… something along those lines.

On the palate it’s a matter of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it. For once the term ephemeral truly fits, as there’s next to nothing there, and what paltry character there is present is obnoxiously fleeting, like a wee Cornish pixie’s fart. To say that I picked up on vague hints of anything whatsoever, decomposing berries of some extremely vague description? bad apples at the bottom of a barrel? acetone? would be doing you all a gross disservice. It’s truly terrible and perhaps better for cleaning your sink or kids paintbrushes rather than consumption. I’d be loathe to even cook with it.

I’m not one prone to headaches, but after two glasses I was hit with a two Advil cranial pressure assault; my body simply didn’t agree with what I had ingested.

When natural wine zealots talk of toxic industrially-manufactured wines, this is EXACTLY what they are referring to; I can see exactly why they’d drink nasty Pét-Nats over this muck.

Sorry, Cono Sur, this is one terribly bad bottle of plonk, but credit where credit’s due, your Viognier gets better year after year.

(Zero apples out of a possible five)