If you read my blog during the summer months, you know that I love cycling. I used to ride a lot, just about every day in fact, until multiple sclerosis took the sight in my left eye five years ago. Since then, it’s been a stationary bike for me!
But that hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for watching the three Grand Tours – cycling’s biggest, baddest races. In May we kick off with the Giro d’Italia (aka the Tour of Italy) and we wrap up in late August/early September with the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain.) In between, my most favorite sporting event takes place: the Tour de France.
I always look forward to that first weekend in July, preparing the initial posts for Tour de France by the Glass, my wine-lover’s guide to each stage of the race. My excitement must be contagious because my husband is now a full-fledged cycling fan as well. I’m not sure he’s ever even ridden a bike!
The Tour de Bicicleta
Just when the Tour was about to start, I read a post by The Drunken Cyclist in which he invited fellow bloggers to participate in a fantasy cycling tournament sponsored by Cono Sur Bicicleta Wines. As participants in the #TourdeBicicleta we would each select a full, nine-man team of riders, choose a name for said team, and hope they acquitted themselves well throughout the 21 day race. Okie Wine Girl, FoodWineClick, Enofylz Wine Blog, and I jumped in with both feet. Oh, and did I mention there were prizes at stake?
Although our league was small, we had fun, especially since most of us languished at the bottom of the standings. No matter – it made watching each stage that much more fun. It should come as no surprise that Monsieur Jeff Kralik (aka The Drunken Cyclist) took top honors in our league. But he was a great sport and shared the winner’s loot with the rest of us.
(Very) much to my surprise, I received an email from Jeff a few weeks ago informing me that I would be receiving two bottles of Cono Sur Bicicleta wine and a cycling jersey. Maybe he took pity on me for having selected Peter Sagan as my sprinter (he was ejected from the Tour after stage four) or for not having selected Chris Froome, the eventual overall winner (every year, it seems). But hey, I’m not above accepting a pity prize, especially if good wine is involved!
Cono Sur Bicicleta Wines
Cono Sur means southern cone in Spanish, a tribute to the shape of South America. It was founded in 1993 with the goal of crafting premium wines that would express the unique character of Chile. Great care was taken to match grape varieties with their optimal sites, ensuring that each wine would be an honest reflection of varietal character and local terroir. All told, Cono Sur’s vineyards cover 2,200 acres in 40 different estates scattered throughout the country.
In 1998 they implemented a program of Integrated Vineyard Management, using natural alternatives to combat disease, control pests and fertilize the vines. Since then, they have produced their first organic wine (2003) and become the first winery in the world to achieve Carbon Neutral delivery status on global exports.
The Cono Sur portfolio includes several different labels, each specializing in a particular style of wine. In creating the Bicicleta label, they paid tribute to the workers who tend the vines, using bicycles to travel from one end of the estate to the other. Current offerings include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier (Cono Sur was the first Chilean winery to produce and export Viognier), Merlot, Carmenere, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
My Wine Loot
The abysmal performance of the Wheeling Dervishes (my fantasy Tour de France team) notwithstanding, I scored two bottles of Cono Sur Bicicleta wine.
2015 Cono Sur Bicicleta Cabernet Sauvignon (13.4% abv; SRP about $10)
Deep ruby in color, with attractive aromas of cassis, blackberry, and mocha wafting from the glass. On the palate, this wine is round and smooth, with a mix of black and red fruit flavors accentuated by vanilla and spice. The acidity keeps the fruit honest, and strikes a nice balance with the silky tannins. Really pleasant to drink, and quite yummy with a simple, grilled steak. Good value.
2015 Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir (14% abv; SRP about $10)
Beautiful, bright red, with inviting red fruit aromas – I get cherry, raspberry, strawberry – and a slight hint of something herbaceous (by no means unpleasant.) This wine has fresh acidity, medium body, and a distinct mineral quality that I find appealing. There’s a trace of warm vanilla, testament to the nine months the wine spent in oak (50% French.) Sip this one while you’re cooking dinner, then go ahead and just pour another glass with your meal. And maybe one more after that . . . .
Thanks to Cono Sur Bicicleta Wines, the Drunken Cyclist, and the 2017 Tour de France for providing wine-filled, cycling entertainment during those three weeks in July. Can’t wait until next year – à bientôt!