Chilean winery Casa Silva shows success with Carménère, a notoriously challenging grape, at a low price point of $20 SRP. Following the rediscovery of Carménère, the lost grape of Bordeaux, Casa Silva has paved the way in determining the proper viticultural conditions for this varietal in Chile. As such, Casa Silva Carménère has had a 3-year compound annual growth rate of 46% in the US Market.
Casa Silva’s success with Carménère comes after years of clonal research by the winery. Carménère was mistakenly labeled as a late ripening Merlot for over 100 years and it was harvested in much the same way even after its rediscovery. These poorly-timed harvests led to mostly green wines that relied heavily on oak to mask deficiencies. 5th generation winery owner, Mario Pablo Silva, pioneered research on the grape, partnering with the University of Talca to gather cuttings from all over Chile in pursuit of optimum varietal expression. Among their queries, Casa Silva sought to determine whether Carménère clones had emerged, and to discern the optimum growing conditions for the temperamental grape.
Based on their findings, Casa Silva established Andean plantings of Carménère in the Los Lingues sub-region of the Colchagua Valley. The complex soil profile of Los Lingues includes both colluvial and alluvial stones (produced by Andes erosion and rivers) which allows for well-drained soils that are key for proper vine hydration for Carménère. The diurnal temperature shifts facilitate balanced ripening from daytime sun exposure and preserved acidity from cold nights. The resulting wines are an example of proper varietal expression as the winery produces a balanced and complex Carménère with their Casa Silva Los Lingues Carménère 2015 that is full of beautifully floral and lifted aromatics.
The Casa Silva Los Lingues Carménère 2015 is a single vineyard Carménère that is rich in fruit and spice without the strong herbaceous flavors that come from growing this grape in the wrong location. On the nose and palate, the Casa Silva Los Lingues Carménère 2015 is intense with notes of ripe black fruits. Notes of boysenberries and hints of tobacco round out the long finish.
5th generation, family-run, and the most awarded Chilean winery in the 21st century, Casa Silva invests in extensive clonal studies and block-specific wines from throughout Colchagua. The Silva family pioneered grape growing in the Colchagua Valley with their first vineyards back in 1892. Their cellar is the oldest in the valley, yet they strive to innovate in their vineyards and to pioneer new terroirs in the Colchagua Valley. They are paving the way for the Chilean Carménère varietal by investing in research in their vineyards to study Carménère clones and its microterroirs.
Carménère was one of the original Bordeaux varietals before being wiped out by Phylloxera in the 1860’s. Yet in Chile, growers inadvertently preserved the grape variety during the last 150 years, due largely to its similarity to Merlot. Cuttings of Carménère were imported by Chilean growers from Bordeaux during the 19th century, however in modern times Chilean growers confused the grape with what they believed to be a late harvesting clone of Merlot. In 1994, researchers distinguished Carménère from Merlot, and yet it has taken some time for winemakers and viticulturists to determine the unique optimum growing conditions for this varietal.
ABOUT VINE CONNECTIONS “NEW CHILE PORTFOLIO”
Vine Connections has been on the frontier of Chile’s fine wine revolution since 2013, when co-founders Ed Lehrman and Nick Ramkowsky invested in the first ever, and still the only, appellation-based Chilean portfolio in the U.S. They gave the portfolio the moniker, “The New Chile”, as the 7 family-owned wineries and 10 brands in the portfolio represent the cutting edge of innovation and the current evolution of their respective appellations of origin.
Founded in 1999 by Ed Lehrman and Nick Ramkowsky, Vine Connections pioneered the first nationally imported portfolio of artisan wines from Argentina and soon after introduced the US to a premium selection of Japanese ginjo sake. In 2013, they launched “The New Chile,” a diverse, high-quality, appellation-based portfolio of boutique Chilean wine. The company represents the largest portfolio of boutique Argentine and Chilean wineries in the United States with almost 70 wines and 20 brands produced by some of South America’s most highly regarded winemakers and viticulturists. Their small domestic portfolio is a collection of some of California’s most exciting people-driven wines. Vine Connections also represents 16 of Japan’s finest sake breweries that produce some of the world’s best artisan chilled sake. Vine Connections is headquartered in Sausalito, California.