Casa Silva Lago Ranco Riesling 2016

Casa Silva Lago Ranco Riesling 2016, Chile, 11.5%

c £20, Field & Fawcett, Portland Wine co, Randalls, Jackson Nugent Vintners

I’ve tried this wine twice recently and both times it has impressed.

The first was in Chile in February with the winemaking team. Then, it stood out for its bracing and cultured style, that little bit of bottle age giving it a creamy, toasty roundness in addition to the green-apple freshness. ‘Vibrant, invigorating – really delicious and delightful,’ I wrote at the time.

The next tasting couldn’t have been more different. It was over dinner in a rowdy but good-humoured tent at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, the Wiltshire-based Michelin-starred restaurant run by wine lovers Roger and Sue Jones.

The Joneses run regular events where wines from two nations are pitted against each other over a meal. Wines are served blind, two wines (one from each country, of the same grape variety and comparable quality) are served with each course. At the end of each course, diners (a mixture of trade, notable people from the country in question and paying guests) vote on which has been their favourite. On this occasion, it was Chile versus New Zealand.

This wine featured then – beautifully pure – alongside the equally delicious but definitely sweeter Felton Road Bannockburn Riesling 2014. They were paired with a ceviche of sea bream, avocado, wasabi sorbet and wasabi pearls (Roger’s cooking really is well worth the detour). Both were delicious with the dish but the spicy intensity plus the sweetness of the sorbet clearly favoured the sweeter style. Hence the Felton Road winning this particular round.

In fact, New Zealand went on to win overall – but the margin of victory was fairly slender in the end. You can read a fuller account (and my thoughts) in a piece Roger later did for The Buyer: Peter Richards MW on Tri Nations Challenge Chile versus New Zealand.

Other wines tried on the night included:

  • Calyptra Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014 versus Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2015
  • Kumeu River Estate Maté’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 versus Errázuriz Las Pizarras Chardonnay 2015
  • Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir 2015 versus Escarpment Pinot Noir 2015
  • Arrest Family Collection 2012 versus Vidal Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
  • Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah 2014 versus Viñedos de Alcohuaz Tococo Syrah 2015

By way of final word, this Riesling is important not just because of its quality but also where it’s from. Futrono is in Chilean Patagonia, around 900 km south of Santiago, an area hitherto disregarded for fine wine as being too cold and rainy. This wine, together with Casa Silva’s new sparkling wine Fervor and Sauvignon Blanc, is further proof that Chile’s south has a very bright future for fine wine.

(7.5/10, Peter, July 2018)