Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vino Casa Silva Offers Exceptional Chilean Wines

In 1892 French wine pioneer Emile Bouchon planted a bunch of vine starts in the colluvial soils of Chile in the Colchagua Valley area. Luckily the vines that were planted were removed from Europe before the Phylloxera issues that hit Bordeaux just a few years later. This allowed the vines to grow strong throughout the last century, aided by cool Pacific breezes at night and warm, dry conditions during the days.

Fast forward now to five generations later. The Silva family has been producing wines from those vines, many of which were planted over 90 years ago, and have been providing bulk juice for Chile’s inexpensive but high quality wines.

In 1997 the Silvas decided to break away from allowing all of their grapes to go to the bulk wine business and started pulling their finest grapes for their own wine production. This is where the Casa Silva brand was born.

Under the careful eye of Mario Silva, winemaker Mario Geisse produces some of the greatest large production wines in Chile. Geisse’s specialty is Carmenere. So much so, that he is considered in Chile as the “King of Carmenere”. This is quite the feat considering how much of that acidic yet herbaceous wine is produced in that country.

Carmenere is a complicated wine to produce, in which the wine is pretty much determined at the time of harvest. There are some things you can do in the barrel room, however it is pretty well known that if you don’t pick the grapes at just the right time they will either become too fruity or too herbaceous in flavor depending on the sugar levels.

I received a bottle of Los Lingues Gran Reserva Carmenere from the winery’s 2008 vintage year this week. The juice runs exceptionally dark purple out of the bottle. Hints of dark stone fruit mixed with mint, lavender, mocha, and cloves fill the nose. On the palate this wine shows itself as being soft and juicy, with a light butterscotch and very balanced finish.

At $22 per bottle as the recommended price, I see this bottle as being one to definitely share with friends either with lamb or any kind of barbecued meats and veggies as a spicier alternative to Pinot Noir.

Also, with the bottle of Carmenere, I had been holding onto a bottle of Casa Silva’s Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. This varietal is something that I’ve been more familiar with for availability in this region. I thought it would be fun to open this bottle at the same time.

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is hand picked and cooled immediately upon arrival to the winery. The grapes are then macerated prior to fermentation which produces a very fruit driven wine with good tannic structure. Dark ruby in appearance, the wine is rich with dark fruits and cherry. Flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and a slight hint of fresh tobacco on the palate. The wine finishes long and gentle with a very nice astringency level.

The Cabernet is offered at retail at about $12 per bottle, which is almost half the price of the Carmenere. The reason is that the Cabernet is meant to be more of a production wine, and the Carmenere is more of a stand alone specialty wine. Both are very much worth their price though.


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