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Research to find best Carmenère for Chilean



Colchagua-based Viña Casa Silva, is undertaking a major research project to identify for the best clone of Carmenère for producing top quality wines in Chile



The Genoma Research Project will study 42 different phenotypes of Carmenère that have just been planted in a special experimental vineyard at Viña Casa Silva’s Los Lingues estate in the foothill of the Andes.  Experts from the University of Talca, the University Federico Santa Maria, the INIA and the Max Planck Institute of Germany are working under the direction of Mario Geisse, technical director and winemaker at Viña Casa Silva, to conduct the research.

Mario Pablo Silva, managing director of family-owned Viña Casa Silva comments: “The Genoma Research Project is a natural extension of our recent Micro Terroir research which identified the optimum elements required of a micro vineyard plot to produce the best quality grapes. Our results raised a number of unanswered questions about Carmenère that we are now trying to address.

“The Genoma Research Project will identify the Carmenère clone or clones that enhance the best and minimize the most challenging characteristics of the grape variety. We are looking for an optimal balance between vegetal and herbaceous characters; more homogenous fruit flavours, good structure and better perceived acidity. We also want to minimize the problems of millerandage that can lead to significant vintage variations in the wines.”

The first stage of the research began with the selection of specific vines to be studied in the new experimental vineyard. Mario Geisse comments: “First we identified the best plants within our own vineyards and then looked elsewhere in Chile to ensure we were starting with the best raw materials available.”

Ten different Carmenère clones were planted by Viña Casa Silva in November 2009 of which perhaps only four will be found to be the best.

Marketing manager ThomasWilkins told The Drinks Report that he believes Carmenère is Chile's 'flag' variety. "The country's principle variety may be Cabinet but Carmenère is 'emblamatic' - a way for Chile to to have distinction.

"This project is about how to develop the best Carmenère for the future," he says. "We believe in 'micro-terroir' and Carmenère and we believe it will be a sucess. We are pushing Carmenère as much as we can but it will take time for consumers to discover and understand."

Preliminary results are expected to be available in three to five years.


1 January 2010 - Felicity Murray