Good Tastes with Cono Sur winemaker Matias Rios at Nuba


Matias Rios explains Cono Sur's new single vineyard range

Matias Rios explains Cono Sur’s new single vineyard range


tumblers are not for wine tasting

No thanks, not for wine, anyway!

Last night I got a chance to re-taste the Cono Sur Viento Mar Block 21 Pinot Noir 2011 mentioned below. I’m sorry, I don’t care how casual and ‘friendly’ they are, these kinds of glasses just don’t cut it for me…

This time it was poured into decent bowls and the transformation was quite spectacular. The aromas blossomed with violet notes and the wine showed its full potential, with silky tannins and a truly elegant structure. So, for that reason, I’m going to change my rating to 92 points. I reckon it’s about the best deal going for a serious Pinot for under $20 you can possibly hope for. And tastes like a whole lot more. Fantastic! Grab it while you can!


When I was offered the chance to meet with Matias Rios last week, I jumped at it. I’ve met Matias a few times, often as not in Chile as here in Vancouver. He’s one of the most down to earth, truly knowledgable and delightful people—in an industry that’s not short on such folks.

I’m a big fan of Matias in his role as head winemaker for Chilean giant Cono Sur, as you’ll see.

My 'breakfast' and wine ... Nuba's superb baba ghanouj with Cono Sur organic Sauv Blanc

My ‘breakfast’ and wine … Nuba’s superb baba ghanouj with Cono Sur organic Sauv Blanc

Our destination was Vancouver’s Nuba, which was packed with people enjoying lunch. It was an interesting choice: tasty for sure, but also a tad frustrating because we were tasting from the house tumblers, which may be ‘no nonsense’ but in my mind don’t allow wine to be fully appreciated. I’m about the farthest you can get from a wine snob. But I know that Matias’ reds in particular would have showed way better in a decent bowl. Never mind, the food was truly good.

Nuba's cripsy cauliflower with tahini. Mmmm!

Nuba’s cripsy cauliflower with tahini. Oh, and that’s a slam dunk with Sauvignon Blanc too! Mmmm!

We tasted quite a few wines and enjoyed some excellent pairings—all of which once again reminded me of just what a good job these guys do in balancing the demand for well made, affordable—and food friendly—wines with a serious hand on the tiller of sustainability. Overall, Nuba and Cono Sur were the perfect fit…

Nuba - local fave!

Nuba – a local fave!

(Here’s what I wrote for this weekend’s North Shore News…)

For a man who’s responsible for making a whole lot of wine, Matias Rios is one of the most relaxed guys you could hope to meet. Rios is the Winemaking Manager for Chile’s Cono Sur—which under his direction has emerged as one of the country’s more familiar and most consumer friendly labels.

Perennially popular Bicycle Cab Sauv Carmenere—but that's not why we're here

Popular Bicycle Cab Sauv Carmenere—but that’s not why we’re here

Beyond its ability to deliver remarkable value, also notable about Cono Sur is the winery’s firm commitment to sustainability. Its popular ‘bicycle labels’ are among the most affordable organic wines you’ll find anywhere. At the fore of the early sustainable movement in Chile for many years, Cono Sur continues to pursue an aggressive program that sees organic practices now applied in all its vineyards, certified or otherwise.

Matias’ latest project has been to develop a new single vineyard range for Cono Sur. It sources from what the winemaker considers to be the most ideal block for a given variety.

Matias first identified the choice vineyards that produce the best statement for a given variety, before zeroing in on the the absolute ideal specific site, taking into account soils, micro-climate, exposure, altitude and so on.

A knockout Single Vineyard Syrah, for under $20 Cdn.

A knockout Single Vineyard Syrah, for under $20 Cdn.

The wines range from a Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, to a Bio Bio Riesling (which we would love to see here!) to Pinot Noir from widely hailed San Antonio, and a (knockout) Syrah, also from San Antonio but this time grown on a warm eastern slope—to mention just a few.

Even though this range represents a definite step up, it’s still very competitively priced and reinforces the pattern that Chilean winemakers are following: looking much more closely at specific regions and terroirs from north to south in this large and varied land.

... and good value single vineyard Pinot, too

… and good value single vineyard Pinot, too

Nose around BC Liquor Stores and (so far) you can get your hands on these:

• Viento Mar (literally ‘Ocean Winds’) Block 21 Pinot Noir 2011. A maritime influenced San Antonio Pinot, again, epitomizes the value that Cono Sur delivers, with plush strawberry and coffee notes wrapped in easy tannins with a slight savoury edge. BCLS $19.99 | 90 pts.

• La Palma Block 25 Syrah 2011 delivers some classic varietal meaty aromas followed by generous red and black fruit, well structured with a broad but balanced plate and a lengthy end. (The name refers to nearby native palm trees.) Good value, again, at BCLS $19.99 | 90 pts.

Hopefully we will be seeing more of these wines soon. Look out for them also at private wine stores—they’re worth the search.


Belly’s Budget Best

• Cono Sur Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (San Antonio). Brimming with bright citrus and lively acidity, this juicy drop sports a crisp and clean personality with a distinctive mineral streak. Excellent organic value at BCLS $14.99 | 89 pts. Enjoy it with baba ghanouj or hummus.


Here’s a quick clip of Matias talking about the single vineyard range:



By | 2018-01-21T15:05:23+00:00 October 26th, 2013|Belly's Budget Best, Sustainable, Wine|1 Comment

About the Author:

Tim has been covering the food and wine revolution for about 20 kilos. Count 15 kg alone thanks to the blossoming cuisine and wine culture of British Columbia, Canada. Tim’s hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises—and often over deliver. Readers depend on the Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. He writes, tweets and shoots his own images for columns in the Vancouver Courier and North Shore News. He also contributes to WHERE Vancouver magazine, as well as to several other publications. They include Taste magazine, Tidings Magazine, and Montecristo. His columns are frequently picked up by major newspapers across Canada. Tim is a frequent judge for wine competitions, such as Vancouver Magazine International Wine Awards. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. He is frequently invited to judge at The BC Wine Awards, and others. Tim has traveled to taste in many of the world’s leading wine regions, most recently in Burgundy, Argentina and Chile.

One Comment

  1. Kathleen November 26, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for the review and recommendation, Tim. I’ll pick up some of the Pinot Noir and Syrah when I’m near a liquor store that carries it. Unfortunately, the BC Liquor Stores in Mission and Abbotsford don’t have any listed … I have to travel to Langley or Coquitlam, which means it may be a while. Oh well! When I do get the wine, I’ll be sure to use appropriate glassware 😉 Cheers, K.

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