Friday, 11 December 2015

Casa Silva, Chilean terroir

At the recent Asia Wine Trophy judging, I learnt that Chilean wine is the rising star in all Asian markets. It was therefore no surprise that Mario Pablo Silva, CEO of Casa Silva, said that in China, Chile is the first wine importing country that cross consumers’ minds, and there is a whopping 65% of consumers who associate Chile with wine.

I have to say that Chile has come a long way. Some ten years ago, the majority of Chilean wine in the market was entry level, value-for-money wine mainly from Maipo. Now, wineries are pushing their mid and premium level wine - as Mario put it, they are promoting the new Chile where good quality wines made from different grape varieties that come from north to south and from coast to mountains. Indeed, Chile has checked all the boxes of capable of producing interesting and high quality wine. It is 4,200 km lengthwise with the Atacama desert, the driest place in the world in the north; and  the Antartica, the coldest in the south. Its narrow width, average 177 km, is cooled by the Pacific Ocean breeze in the west and the Andes Mountain wind in the east. The country offers an array of climate and soil. It is up to winemakers to explore the options of matching different grapes with the terroir.

Casa Silva is in its fifth generation. The family originated from St Emilion in France and settled in Colchagua Valley in Chile in 1892. It has several vineyards including the oldest one, Angostura, in Colchagua where the family has been planting since 1912; and Lago Ranco, in Patagonia where the family has their holiday home and only experimental wines are made. Casa Silva’s vision is to be recognised as a high quality fine wine producer; the leader, innovator of a new generation of Chilean premium wine; as well as an advocate of environmental sustainability - certainly ambitious but not impossible - as its wines do reflect the family commitment.

I particularly like its Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, where grapes come from the Colchagua’s seacoast. Both wines are elegant with fresh fruits aromas and a mineral palate but save the pungency of typical New World wine, and at a steal of only $160/bottle.

The Gran Terroir Syrah is also impressive. Although with 14.5% alcohol, it is well-balanced without the jammy palate and supported by black fruits and spices - another bargain at $135/bottle.

Microterroir is Casa Silva’s premium wine made
from 100% Carmenere. The grapes come from the best selection from its Los Lingues vineyard at the foothills of the Andes. The wine is elegant with multi-layered aromas. We had a vertical tasting of four vintages fro 2006 to 2009 and my favourite is the 2007 - a perfect combination of black fruits, spices and perfume. Retailed at $440/bottle, it is certainly a much better-value wine than most.

It is no wonder that Chilean wine is a rising star.

Casa Silva is available from Sino Vantage.

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