The oldest winery in Chile’s Colchagua Valley, Viña Casa Silva is also one of its most innovative, especially when it comes to Chile’s signature grape Carménère. We visited Casa Silva while preparing our report on The Chilean Wine Revolution, so tasting the winery’s new releases, including its flagship Altura, was a real pleasure. See our reviews below.
Don Emilio Bouchon arrived in Colchagua from Burdeos in St. Emilion in 1892 and started growing grapes in the foothills of the Colchagua Valley at a location called Angostura where some of the vineyard’s original vines still grow, including 103 year old Sauvignon Gris vines that were originally brought from France. In 1997 his descendant Mario Pablo Silva created the Viña Casa Silva, using fruit from the original vines planted by Don Emilio. Today, Casa Silva has 1000 ha of vineyards and produces 7.5 million bottles of wine annually.
Starting in 2005 it carried out research with Professor Yoreko Moreno of the Universidad de Talca to explore the effects of small changes in terroir on the Carménère grape. The results of that research are now making their way into the wines under the direction of lead winemaker Mario Geisse, a renowned specialist in Carménère. One concrete product of that research is the Casa Silva wine called “microterroir”.
Casa Silva’s vineyards are located in four different locations: Angostura, a 1000’ high vineyard on the original estate vineyard; Los Lingues, a 1476’ high vineyard located in the northeast part of the Colchagua Valley in the foothills of the Andes; Lolol, 30 km from the ocean; and the 10 year old vineyard Paredones, a cool climate, 40 ha, 1650’ high site located just 7 km from the ocean. To date, the only wine available in the US from Paredones is the Cool Climate Sauvignon Blanc. Hopefully, Casa Silva and its importer Vine Connections will soon see fit to also bring in the Cool Climate Pinot Noir and Cool Climate Syrah.
Importers: Polaner Selections and Vine Connections
For more on the wines of Chile and Carménère, see our recent articles:
- The Carménères of Chile’s Concha y Toro
- Chilean Carménère: Selections from Apaltagua, Calcu and Maquis
- Cabernet Franc Selections from Chile
- The New Pinot Noirs of Chile: An Update
- The Emergence of Carignan in Chile’s Maule Valley
Casa Silva 2014 Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc Colchagua Valley ($24) 90 Showing nuances of grapefruit and gooseberry, this is a tangy, boldly flavored wine with good density and lingering notes of tangerine and passion fruit. Very flavorful and fresh. From young vines grown in a 1650’ high vineyard in Paredones, a cool climate terroir 7 miles from the Pacific; it’s fermented and aged in stainless steel.
Casa Silva 2014 Sauvignon Gris Colchagua Valley ($20) 91 Revealing exuberant ripe fruit aromas, this old vine Sauvignon Gris is unctuous and rich on the palate with guava and stone fruit flavors and stony mineral mouth feel. It has good balancing acidity, too. From vines with an average age of 103 years, one of the oldest blocks on the Casa Silva original, 1000’ high estate vineyard in Angostura.
Casa Silva 2013 Merlot Cuvee Colchagua Colchagua Valley ($15) 89 Showing fresh dark red fruit with graphite notes on the nose, the Merlot is sweet and lush on the attack with good depth of flavor, finishing with a hint of spice and moderate tannins. An appealing, easy drinking wine that’s a great value. Made from a blend of grapes from the Angostura and Lolol vineyards; half the wine is aged in oak for 8 months.
Casa Silva 2013 Carménère Cuvee Colchagua Colchagua Valley ($15) 88 Fresh and fruity on the nose, quite Beaujolais like, with scents of fresh red fruit and herbs. Shows good upfront fruit that falls off rather quickly. A good pizza wine. Casa Silva’s entry level Carménère, this is a blend of fruit from Los Lingues and the Lolol vineyard in the coastal zone. Half the wine is aged in oak for 8 months.
Casa Silva 2013 Carménère Los Lingues Vineyard Colchagua Valley ($20) 90 Showing dark red fruit and a hint of garrigue on the nose, this wine is much better balanced than the Cuvée Colchagua and is well worth the small extra price. The wine shows good depth of flavor and finishes with nice length, albeit with fairly dry tannins. 80% of the wine was aged in oak for 10-12 months.
Casa Silva 2007 Carménère Microterroir Colchagua Valley ($50) 92 Concentrated and lush, this is textbook super-premium Carménère. Ripe plum and blackberry, dark chocolate, and cracked pepper show on the nose, followed by a silky, unctuous attack and a rich, layered palate with good tannic grip. From 14 year old vines in the Los Lingues Vineyard. This is a great wine to pair with a grilled ribeye.
Casa Silva 2008 Altura Colchagua Valley ($100) 94 The 2008 Altura reveals an expressive nose of dark fruit, smoked meat and exotic wood spices that are mirrored on the palate. Elegantly textured, the mouth feel is silky and seamless, broad and lush, with very fine-grained tannins. This is a superb, seductive wine that impresses with balance rather than power. A blend of wild-yeast fermented fruit from 15 year old vines–40% Carménère, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, and 15% Petit Verdot aged in French oak for 14 months and then cellared three years before release.