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Harvest report, week two Mario Pablo Silva, Vina Casa Silva, Chile

Published:  02 March, 2009

The second in our harvest reports from Mario Pablo Silva, managing director of Viña Casa Silva sent on February 29 from the Colchagua Valley, Chile

The second in our harvest reports from Mario Pablo Silva, managing director of Viña Casa Silva sent on February 29 from the Colchagua Valley, Chile

We are nearing the end of the second week of the harvest at Viña Casa Silva and it really is all hands on deck!

Nearly 95% of the Sauvignon Gris from our Angostura estate has been harvested; in fact a large proportion is halfway through fermentation already. There's only a very small amount left which is being harvested as we speak; around 66% of the Sauvignon Blanc, also from our old vines in Angostura, has also been picked, and we are just waiting for the right moment to pick the slower maturing parcels which should be in the next three to four days.

We will need at least another four weeks before the Sauvignon Blanc from our new vineyards in Paredones are ready to be picked. Paredones is the Colchagua Valley's first ever coastal vineyard, just seven kilometres from the Pacific Ocean. About five years ago we started looking for new terroirs to grow 'cooler climate' varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and established the Paredones vineyard on 20 hectares of virgin land. The proximity of the Ocean tempers the daytime temperatures helping to preserve the natural aromatic flavours and acidity of the grapes. Last year there was a difference of five weeks in ripening time between Sauvignon Blanc from Angostura and from Paredones - and this year it could be even more.

It is only our second harvest of Sauvignon Blanc at Paredones and our first for Pinot Noir, and we are very excited at the potential for the wines. The coastal area of Colchagua was traditionally overlooked as a potential vineyard area because of the lack of readily available water. However, the soil is ideal for grape growing: it is mostly granite with sections of clay in the higher slopes.

Elsewhere in our vineyards we have also picked the very first Chardonnays, but only in tiny quick-maturing parcels that already showed good ripeness (less than 3% of our total Chardonnay plantings). Thanks to our Microterroir studies, we have all parcels very clearly marked allowing us to separate out different ripeness and characteristics amongst individual clusters of vines in every plot.

The temperatures are now back to normal with very fresh morning and nights, which will help at this stage to preserve fruitiness and acidity. Fortunately the heat we had between mid-December and mid-January only accelerated the ripening process, but did not affect the phenolic balance. Potential alcohol, pH & acidity levels are looking very good.

The grapes are healthy and the vineyards look beautiful, full of colour: red, black and yellow-gold. It is a wonderful time to be in The Colchagua Valley. With nature's blessing, this harvest looks like it will continue to be a promising one.

I really must get back to the vineyards. Until next week, saludos....