Some weeks, like last week, I really struggle to come up with a fresh idea or winery to talk about. Other weeks, like this one, I have it given to me. In this case, literally! This week I received a couple of sample bottles from my friend Kylie Garrett of Calhoun & Company Communications.
Calhoun & Co. is a marketing firm that specializes helping good vintners get their wines noticed and consumed. The winery she asked me to consider this time was Chilean wine producer Casa Silva.
Located 90 miles south of Santiago Chile is an area called the Colchagua Valley. Much like Napa Valley in California, the area is located between a mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. It enjoys warm arid days, good drainage, and cool evening breezes. Perfect growing conditions for many different species of grapes.
This is where Emile Bouchon, a French immigrant, decided to settle in 1892, and carefully plant the cuttings that he carefully carried from his old home in Bordeaux. The Bouchon family went on to be one of the top producers of wine grapes in Chile, supplying other winemakers for nearly 100 years.
Emile’s great grandson Mario suggested in 1997 that the family needed to step beyond just being grape growers and become winemakers as well. Their specialty grape is Carmenère, Chile’s trademark wine.
So, with great anticipation I opened my box and dove in to find a bottle each of Sauvignon Blanc and Carmenère.
I cooled and opened the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc first. Sauvignon blanc is a grape variety that grows well in arid climates. Casa Silva carefully hand-sorts their fruit and crushes whole grape bunches. They then ferment the Sauvignon Blanc in 100% stainless steel.
The thing that impressed me most about this wine was the gentleness. The Casa Silva was very delicate and floral on the nose. The taste was slightly tart like gooseberries, with a nice finish of ripe banana and orange blossoms.
I had this wine with butternut squash ravioli and a nice butter cream sauce with roasted red peppers and herbs. The wine was acidic enough to break the creaminess of the dish, and yet was delicate on the palate.
After dinner I sat on my deck and enjoyed the 2008 Carmenère Reserva. The Carmenère was somewhat tight at first and needed to be swirled or decanted in order to open it up for drinking. I prefer to just sit and swirl, which worked quite well for me.
Half of the wine ages in French Oak for 6 months, and the rest remains in stainless steel for the duration of the process. The wine begins on the nose with aromas of dark bing cherries and plums. The fruit opens up in the mouth to include pepper and a hint of cardamom. The finish is warm and long with balanced tannins. I would highly recommend either drinking this with lamb, venison, or other spicy meats. Or, like me, looking out at the sun setting over the Cascade mountain range and a glass in my hand.
There are several negotiations going on for distributors in our region, with hopes to have this wine launched in Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington soon. At suggested retail prices of around $12 per bottle I know you’re going to want to try these wines out.