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Delhi Wine Club
José Tomás Gillet of Cono Sur from Chile

Posted: Friday, 22 April 2016 12:39


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Passing by: José Tomás Gillet of Cono Sur from Chile

April 22: José Tomás Gillet, Export Manager Asia for Cono Sur, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Concha y Toro was in India from April 18-22 to meet the customers and opinion leaders for the wines being imported by Sula for the last five years and conducted an exclusive tasting session at the Chilean Embassy in collaboration with Pro-Chile in the presence of the Ambassador of Chile, H.E. Andres Barbe, writes Subhash Arora who enjoyed the informal and innovative styled Tasting

Click For Large ViewCono Sur is a rather young winery that was created in 1993 and is one of the 8 owned by Latin America’s biggest producer and perhaps world’s biggest in vineyard holdings. JT, as José Tomás Gillet is known in the company, isn’t much older than the winery. He is 29 years of age but gained valuable experience in the food and wine industry across Chile, New Zealand and has been based out of Shanghai for the last two years. Coincidentally, he has been working with Cono Sur for the last 4-5 years just around the time when Sula started importing one of the Most Admired Brands of the world.  For 'Brands' details, visit:

Torres Becomes World’s Most Admired Wine Brand
Torres continues as World’s Most Admired Wine Brand  
Penfolds Displaces Torres as World’s Most Admired Brand

It dropped from No. 10 last year to no. 16 this year as the ‘World’s Most Admired Brand’ and is behind only another popular Concha y Toro Brand Casillero del Diablo and Viña Errazuriz from Chile. But JT stressed that this was the overall assessment of the panel of about 200 wine experts, MWs, sommeliers, wine buyers, educators and journalists.  If one looks at the ratings by the Masters of Wine in the panel, Cono Sur was number one, he asserted.

Cono Sur (which means Southern Cone and represents the geographical location in the world map) believes in Innovation, Quality using high technology and commitment to Environment which is most laudable. Despite being a decent sized company, with exports amounting to 5 million cases a year- over a third of the entire group, and despite the vines being relatively young, the emphasis on quality has resulted in the brand being recognised well in the world, especially UK where it is the most selling brand. Interestingly,  UK is their biggest market though USA and Japan are important markets too.

Click For Large View‘Our philosophy is to respect the land and the soil and we do not use fertilizers and in fact are gradually going certified organic.  Cono Sur was chosen as the Green Company of the Year in 2011 by The Drinks Business out of 9 wineries shortlisted,’ says JT, adding ‘ours was the first winery in the world, which was certified Carbon Neutral and we are allowed to carry this certification on our products.’

Although it started the Pinot Noir project only in 1999, it has become synonymous with Pinot Noir winery and today it is 5th largest Pinot Noir producer in the world, says JT. The company decided to use Burgundy tradition for its Pinot Noir by engaging Martin Prieur, an experienced Pinot noir winemaker as their consultant.

José Tomás who cycles to work every day explained that although bicycles are most popular in the south of Santiago, they were really a symbol of the winery as all workers rode to the winery on bicycles. It was natural for the company to have a range of wines labelled as Bicicleta. In fact three of the wines tasted were of this label. There was an entry level of Tocornal Merlot which can be purchased at sub-1000 in Gurgaon.

In 2015, it was selected as the official wine of Tour de France. When asked in a lighter vein, JT clarified that the riders didn’t drink wine during or after each leg. But on a serious note, Ambassador Barbe said it was a matter of an honour because for French to accept Chilean wine for a French event was not an easy task and it reflected on how much they cared for quality and loved Cono Sur.

There were 4 wines offered for tasting along with cheese empanadas and other snacks- 3 in the Bicicleta label- Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and one an entry level Tocornal Merlot. Chardonnay is from the cooler Casablanca Valley while the others are from the central Valley where it is warmer and the fruit can ripe more fully.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay 2014- Pale golden colour with floral aromas is quite crisp, fresh and mineral in taste with citrus notes. Medium body-full on the palate. I felt it had flirted with oak staves though JT said it had been processed in only stainless steel tanks. Juicy, medium long finish, for immediate drinking. 

Click For Large ViewCono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir- Light to medium body, light ruby red, soft tannins and clean on the palate. Red juicy cherries and strawberries in the flavour. Good balance, easy drinking wine that went very well with even cheese empanadas. Important to serve it at 16˚C because served cooler it froze the flavours till it warmed up a little. Good representation of the varietal, with medium – long, clean juicy Finish. 

Tocornal Merlot 2014 – Entry level Merlot, darker red colour, slightly green on the nose, lean look and feel on the palate. Clean ,simple but fruity wine suitable for budget conscious drinkers or those who love Merlot as a varietal. Short to medium, fruity end.

Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon 2013-A recent addition to the portfolio, this is a full bodied fruit forward wine with clean red berry aromas and characteristic of a Cabernet, with an ageing potential as bonus. Full mouth-feel  and slightly herbal and savoury flavours in the back layer with reasonable structure and good concentration. Where Pinot Noir would give up being matched with food, this wine would take over- like for mutton kebabs, minced meat korma or lamb dishes.

Presence of the Ambassador shows the support for Chilean wines he gives. Kudos to Carolina Vasquez, Head of ProChile for organising an informal event where the select few enjoyed meeting José Tomás Gillet and learning about the winery and tasting the wines sponsored by Sula Selections.

Subhash Arora

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