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Casa Silva launches first Coastal Colchagua wine

Chile’s a pretty eclectic place, geographically speaking. It’s got a bit of everything going for it. Modern technology and today’s enologically pioneering spirit have enticed winemakers into seeking out new frontiers to give the different varieties just the combination of sun, soil, and temperature that makes them sing.

To prove that point, Colchagua based Viña Casa Silva decided to launch its latest wine-Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc-by inviting a small group of wine writers to visit their young vineyards near the coast of Colchagua. This is a big deal. They literally broke new ground-new terroir-with this project by daring to plant this close to the so-cold-it’s-cool coast in a region where no one has ever grown wine grapes before.

So they ordered up an absolutely gorgeous day and put a dozen of us on a little 12-seater and flew us to the Colchagua coast…

Central Chilean Andes to the left (©MSnook 2009)

Central Chilean Andes to the left (©MSnook 2009)

We left the Santiago airport and headed south, with the Andes to the left and the Coastal Mountains to the right. August is still winter in the southern hemisphere, and last week’s heavy rains dusted the Coastal Mountains with snow for a special treat.

Chile's Coastal Mountains in August

Chile's Coastal Mountains in August

The layers of fog that accumulate between the irregular Coastal Mountains moderate temperatures and provide moisture for an area that is otherwise quite dry. The greenery is the result of winter rains; at other times of the year, the hills are dry and brown.

Morning fog creeps in among Chile's Coastal Mountains

Morning fog creeps in among Chile's Coastal Mountains. The snow capped Andes appear in the distance (upper right) (©MSnook 2009)

When we reached Colchagua 110 miles south of Santiago, we turned west toward the coast, following the tongue-tangling Tinguiririca (Ting-geer-ee-REE-ka) River to the sea for a better-than-birds’-eye view of the valley from the Andes to the Pacific.

Colchagua Valley: Tinguiririca River and Coastal Mountains. (©MSnook 2009)

Colchagua Valley: Tinguiririca River and Coastal Mountains. (©MSnook 2009)

The mountains start to smooth out and the land flattens near the coast.

Colchagua Valley: Tinguiririca River and Coastal Mountains. (©MSnook 2009)

Colchagua Valley: Tinguiririca River and Coastal Mountains. (©MSnook 2009)

Farm lands start to give way to pine forests that cover the rolling hills near the coast.

Flying west over Colchagua Valley approaching the sea. (©MSnook 2009)

Flying west over Colchagua Valley approaching the sea. (©MSnook 2009)

It’s hard to imagine a more breathtaking coastline. Just a few miles north is Pichilemu, one of the surfing capitals of the southern hemisphere.

The Colchagua Valley meets the Pacific Ocean. (©MSnook 2009)

The Colchagua Valley meets the Pacific Ocean. (©MSnook 2009)

Casa Silva’s 4-year-old vineyard near Paredones, just 5.5 mi (9 km) from the sea. 40 hectares (99 acres)-half Sauvignon Blanc and half Pinot Noir-have been planted on the sandy-clay hillsides that ring the reservoir and on the lower-lying lands that surround it. The Sauvignon made its debut today; the Pinot-ever the diva-will hold out another year to make its grand entrance.

Casa Silva's vineyard in the Colchagua Valley's cool coastal region near Paredones. (©MSnook 2009)

Casa Silva's vineyard in the Colchagua Valley's cool coastal region near Paredones. (©MSnook 2009)

Viña Casa Silva’s Chief Winemaker, Mario Geisse, met the group at the vineyard, where he explained the characteristics of the coastal vineyard. Sandy-clay soils–typical of the ancient Coastal Mountains–provide good drainage and easy root development, but also make erosion an issue, so plant cover between rows is a must. Humidity is also an issue this close to the coast, where morning fogs are common, but a continuous gentle breeze and good canopy management protect the grapes from fungal problems. “I highly recommend this climate for anyone,” jokes Geisse, “It never gets below 9º-10ºC in winter or above 25ºC in summer.”

Winemaker Mario Geisse at Casa Silva's coastal vineyard near Paredones

Winemaker Mario Geisse at Casa Silva's coastal vineyard near Paredones

Viña Casa Silva has 20 hectares each of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot planted here.  The first vintage of its Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2009 is now on the market, but Pinot–ever the prima donna–needs another year to primp before making its debut.

The Colchagua coast: Saint Peter and the seagulls in the fishing village of Buculemo. (©MSnook 2009)

The Colchagua coast: Saint Peter and the gulls in the fishing village of Buculemo. (©MSnook 2009)

Westward (and lunchward) bound, we headed straight to the coast to Buculemu, with a dramatic weather change just a couple of miles up the road from the sea. This fishing village had been clear all morning and the cloud cover rolled in just before we got there. Though the coastal air was still thick and soupy when we left a few hours later, the sun was still shining just a couple miles away from the coast itself.

By Margaret Snook for Wines of Chile

The Colchagua coast: Saint Peter and the seagulls in the fishing village of Buculemo. (©MSnook 2009)Winemaker Mario Geisse at Casa Silva's coastal vineyard near ParedonesCasa Silva's vineyard in the Colchagua Valley's cool coastal region near Paredones. (©MSnook 2009)The Colchagua Valley meets the Pacific Ocean. (©MSnook 2009)Colchagua Valley: Tinguiririca River and Coastal Mountains. (©MSnook 2009)Flying west over Colchagua Valley approaching the sea. (©MSnook 2009)Colchagua Valley: Tinguiririca River and Coastal Mountains. (©MSnook 2009)Morning fog creeps in among Chile's Coastal MountainsChile's Coastal Mountains in AugustCentral Chilean Andes to the left (©MSnook 2009)

4 Responses to “Casa Silva launches first Coastal Colchagua wine”

  1. A very interesting look at cool climate Sauvignon blanc and Pinot Noir winemaking. Had you tasted the Sauvignon Blanc it would have been great to know what you thought of it. I am looking forward to tasting it myself on an upcoming visit to Chile

    Thanks,

  2. Absoultely fantastic! Tonight I will have a wine tasting presentation of Casa Silva Wines in Herefordshire, for 60 wine lovers. Paredones Sauvignon Blanc will be there…

  3. Editor says:

    Great! I hope you enjoy the tasting!

  4. We recently received the 2010 vintage here in New York! I’m excited to show a wine from the new Paredones vineyards.

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