Tuesday, 15 January 2013

In conversation with... Mario Pablo Silva of Casa Silva


Casa Silva was the first winery to be established in Colchagua Valley in 1892 and has since pioneered many sub-regions including ‘Los Lingues’ and most recently ‘Coastal Colchagua’ – with the Paredones ‘Cool Coast’ Sauvignon Blanc. The team are world leading experts on Carmenere but perhaps their most exciting project to date has been the microterroir research done in partnership with local universities. We met up with owner, Mario Pablo Silva, to find out more about these and other exciting Casa Silva projects…


Do you have a winemaking ‘philosophy’ at Casa Silva – what are you hoping to achieve with your wines?
Wines that represent their terroir of origin, elegance and fresh fruit, with a great respect for the environment, produced 100% with fruit from our own sustainable vineyards in the Colchagua Valley, from the Andes Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

You are one of Chile’s most pioneering wineries – what’s your proudest achievement to date? 
The microterroir project; discovering new areas to grow vineyards such as Los Lingues, Paredones and Lolol; the new Carmenere clone study and being wine tourism leaders on the Colchagua Valley. Also, being the most awarded Chilean winery of the 21st century.

And what’s next for Casa Silva?
We’re experimenting with a new growing region at Ranco Lake which will be a new southern border for Chilean wine growing regions.

You announced plans a couple of years ago to convert Casa Silva vineyards to organic production – what stage are you at with this programme & what difference will it make?
We will soon release a line of organically grown wines. We are certified under the Wines of Chile Code, as a Sustainable producer being one of only 3 Companies in Chile to have 100% of their vineyards certified. This a key issue for us.

Tell us about the micro-terroir project – what were the key learnings from the research?
The key learnings were the particular differences in terms of soil, climate and behavior of the vineyards, even at the cluster level there were many detailed differences within a single block. We were able to identify special areas within our vineyard that produced outstanding quality. With this information we are able to search for new areas with similar characteristic for new plantings.

Since the Carmenere vines that we have today are a mass selection it encouraged us to find clonal selections that provide us with the explanations that we could not find with the Microterroir Project. This was the basis for our current study into Carmenere clones.

You’ve obviously spent a lot of time looking at the difference terroir makes – do you think terroir & regionality will one day be as significant in the New World as they are the Old World?
Yes, especially for Chile, because of the great diversity of exceptional terroirs that we have, producers are looking to expand the borders of the current growing regions discovering new interesting places every year.

Casa Silva is seen as a Carmenere specialist – do you see Carmenere as Chile’s USP?
We strongly believe in Carmenere. As we develop more studies about its terroir requirements and clone selection among others, we will obtain better wines. Maybe this will mean to reduce volume but we will gain in quality, with unique products as single varietals and blends.

You also experiment with a number of more unusual grape varieties such as Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Gris – why is this important?
Experimenting with new varieties is very important for Chile, since it allows us to show to the world the great diversity of terroirs that we have from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean, this diversity is what allows us to produce high quality wines from unusual varieties that add value to our current portfolio.

Jamie Goode described your Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc as ‘Chile’s Cloudy Bay?’ Do you see this wine becoming an ‘icon’ wine?
Yes, this Wine is a pioneer, with a unique character and that changed the perception on Colchagua´s potential for white wines (Usually known for reds) We produce this wine only 6 kilometers away from the Pacific Ocean under very cool conditions. This was a real breakthrough in Chilean viticulture.

Do you think Chile needs ‘icon’’ wines to show it can compete with the rest of the world at the premium level and it’s not just a source of ‘great value’ wines?
Of course we need these kind of wines, and we have them, we just need to showcase them more and more. We have great quality at higher price points, and more important, we have the natural conditions to produce them.

If you could own another wine property in the world, which one would it be?
Maybe a little property at Saint Emillion, that´s where our ancestors are from, and where they brought from our first vines back in 1892 to Chile and that are still planted at our Angostura Estate. But to be honest, I wouldn’t change for anything in the world our Colchagua Valley Vineyards.

What’s the best bit about your job?
Living from our own land, with our family, our kids, generation after generation producing wines, as a way of life, around our vineyards and our community.

What’s your ultimate food and wine match? 
I like a nice soft fruity Carmenere with a Corn Pie, something that´s traditional from Chile, fresh oysters and Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc is also one of my favorite matches.

What would be your ‘desert island wine’?
If was all alone on a island, there´s no doubt, a Carmenere from Los Lingues, easy to match with many dishes but it is also part of who we are as company and as a family. It has become part of our DNA.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Working with Averys for the last 6 years has been a great partnership and very rewarding.

As a company, Averys have embraced many of the initiatives and projects that we have pioneered in Chile and in turn have pioneered these in the UK, being the first UK company to work with the Microterroir Carmenere, Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc and Petit Verdot.

It was very excellent for us at Casa Silva to work with Emma and the team at Avery’s in developing their own Carmenere Cuvée, we hope we can continue to pioneer these type of quality, terroir – led projects with them.

Having John Avery’s signature on a Viognier project we worked on together was very significant for us, as families are important and we know Mimi and the team will continue to keep this strong bond between our two companies after John Avery’s sad passing last year.

Having met many of the Averys senior and sales teams over the last few years, I know we have a good future together as we think alike and have the same goals for our customers…..who knows, maybe we are working on an Avery’s Clone project soon!

SPECIAL OFFER: You can order the Casa Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc and SAVE £20 on our website, click here to find out more and order today.

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