Celebrate Tour de France with Bicicleta wines from Cono Sur

Cono Sur Bicicleta Sauvignon Blanc review

I’M NOT known for my fitness levels, but I‘m pretty good at running to a bar at last orders. So cycling? Not a chance. And don’t even think about me in Lycra. No. Don’t. 

But watching cycling is a different matter, and next weekend the much-heralded Tour de France 2014 begins in Yorkshire.
York prepares for the Grand Depart 2014
I was lucky enough to be in York the week before it prepared for the Grand Depart Tour de France 2014
York prepares for the Grand Depart
York prepares for the Grand Depart

For Chilean winemakers Cono Sur the bicycle is a symbol of the winery’s commitment to sustainability, with  workers travelling around the estate on environmentally friendly bikes.  The symbol on the Bicicleta range is a bike.  Naturally.

So it seems to make perfect sense that  Cono Sur is an Official Supporter of the Grand Départ du Tour de France 2014.
There’s  several wines in the range, but  Bicicleta ‘heroes’  for the Grand Départ are sauvignon blanc, viognier, pinot noir, and merlot.
And there’s plenty of mileage in each of them.
Whites: The sauvignon blanc is typically fresh and grassy with gooseberry and green pepper skin. The viognier is a perfumed cloud of apricots, tinned mandarins, and orange blossom. It delivers mouthfuls of bright peach. Very nice indeed.
Cono sur bicicleta pinot noir wine reviews
Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir
Reds: The pinot noir has a savoury mushroomy nose and pecks of spice. It is black-fruity rich with fine tannins and is perfect with roast beef on a Sunday. The merlot packs a velvet-gloved punch with plums and blackberries and just the hint of toastiness.
There are several supermarket offers around on the Bicicleta range to mark Le Tour. Shop around and you could get all four wines for just over £20 and you can’t complain at that.
Cono Sur Bicicleta wine review
Cono Sur Bicicleta

Tesco: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are reduced to £5 from July 2 to  August 12.

Sainsbury: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are reduced to £5.49 from  July 2 to July 22.

Morrisons: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Merlot are reduced to £5.49 from July 20.
Asda: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier are £5   to August 1.

To continue the Tour theme,  Sainsbury’s has selected seven French

wines to mark places “en route” which you can enjoy from the comfort of your armchair. Wear cycling shorts if you must to get in the zone. Here’s three of them … Taste the Difference Alsace Gewürtztraminer 2013  (£8) is a flurry of lychees and roses and a thoroughly enjoyable wine.

Taste the Difference Beaujolais Villages 2013 (£7.25). There’s beaujolais and then  there’s beaujolais villages  … this  is a step above the basic (ignoring nouveau here) and only certain villages are allowed to  class their wines as such.

This was awash with red berries and was a juicy fruity light  refreshing garden treat.

 Taste the Difference Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013 (£8) is a blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah. If you haven’t had a rosé yet this summer why not? This is crisp, dry, with a good bite of cherries and strawberries  from  Provence in  the south of France. Think of those chappies cycling away and just enjoy.

Les Jamelles Syrah 2012
Les Jamelles Syrah 2012
Also in my glass …   staying in France,  Les Jamelles Syrah 2012 (£6.49, the  Co-op). This dark  red beauty from the Languedoc won a silver outstanding medal at the 2013 International Wine and  Spirit Competition.  It has bowls full of ripe bramble fruits and is lush and deep and herby too.

Add dash of Chambord to prosecco for a summery cocktail

Chambord prosecco

I’VE been sitting here thinking about strawberries and Wimbledon and the Longest Day (because, scarily, we have reached that daylight milestone).

Where do I take you this week, I’ve been asking myself. What homework do I set you in my continued challenge to encourage you to drink something new. To cast away the grigio and run free, barefoot across the bottled landscape; wind billowing through your hair, the sun glinting off your clasped shiny corkscrew. (Not sure running barefoot across bottles is a good analogy. So tread carefully.)

I‘ve been torn. But no more. I’ve shrugged off the image of my one reader (that’s you) running around crazily looking for wine, and have landed on Chambord.

Plaza prosecco review

Purely by chance. I poured a glass of prosecco, Plaza Centro Prosecco (Tesco, £6.49 until July 1, reduced from £12.99). It‘s OK. It’s prosecco. A good light lemon flurry of pouring bubbles enjoying the contact with fresh air longer than most, and a burst of citrus in the mouth. You’re never going to get a complexity of tastes with prosecco, unlike a cava or a crémant. I needed an added “something” to liven up the brain cells I use for words.

Then I remembered I had a bottle of Chambord one of my closest friends had bought me.  (A 20cl bottle is in Tesco for £7.50).

If you’ve never tried it, I urge you to do so.  The Chambord website tells me:

“Chambord is the premium black raspberry liqueur with a fine French heritage. Chambord stands alone in its category — and in its iconic, captivating packaging.”

The bottle is so pretty.  It should be gracing a dressing table.

Chambord liqueur
Chambord liqueur, oh so pretty

I poured a little glug into the glass and it turned a glass of sparkles into  a fruity cocktail treat. A weekday luxury as I’m tapping on this laptop with Corrie on the TV. Come on Peter Barlow, shape up.

Chambord is 16.5% abv and gave the prosecco more oomph and a delightful raspberry depth. Sparkles aside, there’s a heap of cocktail ideas you can create, including vodka, Chambord and soda (pop a raspberry in too). Or Chambord suggests a French Martini, which is vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice.

Yums. Lovely little summery treats.

If you want to look for other sparklers to celebrate the summer, then a good starting point could be a handful of supermarket own-brand wines which dominated the Great Value Sparkling category in the recent International Wine Challenge Awards.

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore review
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut 2013
  • Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut 2013 (£10) was awarded the Great Value Awards for sparkling under £12.
  • The Co-operative picked up the mid-range Great Value Award (sparkling wines between £12 and £20) for its Les Pionniers NV Champagne (£16.99). 
  • Waitrose won the Great Value sparkling under £25 award with its Blanc de Noirs Brut NV (£24.99).

If you want a pink sparkle without the home-made element then Freixenet has two lovely cavas Cordon Rosado (RRP £9.99) and the classy-looking Elyssia Pinot Noir (RRP £14.99).

Freixenet cava elyssia pinot noir brut review
Freixenet Elyssia cava

Both are widely available. The rosada uses two “stand up and be counted grapes” trepat and garnacha and delivers bright red fruits and blackberries. Elyssia is one to grace a special dining table and has a lightness of touch that pinot noir brings and lots of summer fruits.

So what do I always say? Go forth and experiment.

Published in the saturday extra magazine June 21, 2014