Viña Casa Silva is recognized as the oldest winery in the Colchagua Valley, Chile. Founded in 1892 by French pioneer and ancestor Emilio Bouchon, Casa Silva is owned and operated by Mario Silva, the fifth generation of winemakers. Many of the vines were planted over 100 years ago, brought over from pre-phylloxera Bordeaux vineyards. Prior to 1997, the Silvas sold their grapes to larger wineries. One of just three pioneering wineries to achieve 100% certification under the Wines of Chile Sustainability Code, Casa SIlva was deemed “Winery of the Year” by the WInes of Chile organization in 2013 and “Most Awarded Winery of the 21st Century” by VITIS Magazine (Chile’s only specialized wine magazine published in both English and Spanish and distributed locally and overseas).
Facing the Andes Mountains, the property containing the Angostura vineyards is the origin of the Silva family in Chile and includes plantations dating back to 1912 with original varieties brought from France by the first generation of the family. The property also houses the family pride, the old wine cellar that is a pioneer in technology despite its years. The soils are of fine sand over old alluvial substrates composed of small and medium-sized stones and a large among of decomposing rock. Low to medium depth allows for good drainage, and the organic content is low-medium as well. The climate is temperate Mediterranean. Summers are dry with moderate maximum temperatures, and winters are cold and moderately rainy. The average summer temperature ranges from 54º to 81º F (12º to 27ºC), and the average annual rainfall is 27.5 inches (700 mm).
Our visit to Viña Casa Silva began in the vineyards where we had a carriage ride around the property (see the second photograph in this blog post, above). The cellar tour featured both historic equipment and concrete fermentation tanks from 1939 and very modern winemaking equipment. A highlight was seeing the family’s library room (see photograph, below), located at the end of a long underground tunnel, beneath the winery.
“Viña Casa Silva has the oldest wine cellar in the Colchagua Valley. Beneath its traditional and historic facade, however, it is one of Chile’s most modern wine facilities. Located on a century-old estate in Angostura, it is equipped with the latest technology, barrel rooms with the perfect conditions for aging wines, and a specially outfitted sector for small vinifications. It also has historic tunnels below ground and a beautiful collection of antique cars.” – http://www.casasilva.cl
One of our favorite wines in the tasting (and on the four-day trip through the winelands of Chile) was the Viña Casa Silva Microterroir de Los Lingues Carménère. The Silvas explain: “As part of [our] ongoing search for the maximum expression of quality, [we have] been a pioneer in the production of excellent Carménères from the Los Lingues Vineyard at the foot of the Andes Mountains. Small sectors of this vineyard have been selected to produce this Carménère, the result of the first micro-terroir study conducted in Chile.”