Casas del Bosque, Casablanca Valley, Chile   
Exploring the diversity of Chile's Vineyards, Part 5


This was my second visit to Casas del Bosque, the first being in January 2008. Things have changed a bit: most significantly, talented Kiwi winemaker Grant Phelps is now at the helm.

Grant Phelps

We think of Casablanca as a cool climate region, but actually it’s pretty dry here, and quite warm in the summer. If it wasn’t for snow melt, Chile would be a dessert, because it just rains in June, Huly, August and mid September. Casablanca has less rain than Maipo, at 420 mm compared with 750 mm, and this region was slow to develop as a wine region because of the lack of a river and readily available irrigation water. 

All agriculture in the valley is sustained by irrigation, either from wells or reservoirs. Typically the vines here will, in January, receive 8 h irrigation a week at 3/litres and hour through the drippers, making a total of 24 litres per vine per week. 

The first vineyards were planted here in 1983, and these were at the warmer end of the valley, where Veramonte are. Casas del Bosque are at the cooler, more frost prone end, and pick Sauvignon two weeks later than Veramonte. Casas del Bosque first planted in 1993, and built a winery in 2000. 

Everything is 100% hand-picked, and as well as the Casablanca fruit, Cabernet and Carmenère grapes are bought in from Maipo, Cachapoal and Colchagua. The winery produces around 70 000 cases from 15000 tons of fruit. 

There are 250 hectares of vineyards hwere, 120 on hills and 130 on the flat. Frost control is a major issue, and the property has 22 frost propellors that coast $50 and hour each to run. This year, they had used them 13 times. 

There are three different soil types: grey clay/loam/sand on the flat, black/grey clay plus granite on the hill, and also red volcanic on the hill.

Since Grant arrived in January 2010, a lot of work has been done on the Sauvignon Blanc. He uses lots of skin contact, making the point that in New Zealand there is lots of inadvertent skin contact. Grant has adapted the winery, doubling the cold capacity, and has started crushing the hand picked Sauvignon into 6 tanks where it gets up to 3 days skin contact. pH goes up a little, but it is naturally low. The main yeast used is B2000 which is a Saccharomyces bayanus (a different species of the wine yeast, Saccharomyces), and which ferments as low as 8 °C. VL3 is also used, but this isn’t taken below 10 °C. Cold fermentations help retain the aromas.  


Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2009 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Mineral, fresh salty nose with nice grapefruit and herb notes. Very pure, crisp and transparent with lovely purity. 88/100

Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva 2009 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Crisp, fresh, herby and precise, with a gentle herby character and notes of grapefruit and citrus. Some texture too. Fresh and attractive. 90/100

Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Pequeñas Producciones 2009 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Nicely herby, fresh and mineral with some green notes. Nicely dense. Citrussy with good concentration and some richness. 89/100

Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2010 Casablanca Valley, Chile
A blend of clones 1, 242 and 107. Very crisp, pure and precise with lovely purity and freshness. Grapefruit, citrus and a hint of green. Nice saline quality, with a touch of smokiness. 89/100

Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva 2010 Casablanca Valley, Chile
One third each of the three clones. 8% barrel fermented. Very pure and precise with good acidity. Lively and intense showing lovely purity. Grapefruit and mineral. Super effort. 91/100

Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc Pequeñas Producciones  2010 Casablanca Valley, Chile
All three clones; 72% barrel ferment. Pure and textured with some herby notes and a bit of minerality. Broad with linear purity. Some grapefruit pith. Will likely age well. 90/100

Casas del Bosque Chardonnay Reserva 2009 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Broad, nutty nose is quite mealy with nice breadth. The palate is mealy, bready and nutty with some honeyed richness. 84/100

Casas del Bosque Chardonnay Gran Reserva 2008 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Dense, toasty and nutty with an oily edge to the fruit. Big, mealy, dense and savoury. 85/100

Casas del Bosque Pinot Noir Reserva 2009 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Fresh, slightly floral nose is bright with red berry and dark cherry fruit. Lovely purity. The palate is rich and pure with some meat and spic. Bold but fresh. 89/100

Casas del Bosque Pinot Noir Gran Reserva 2009 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Dense cherry and berry fruit with some savoury, spicy oak. Tight and dense with a strongly savoury edge and some tannic structure. Needs time. 89/100

Casas del Bosque Pinot Noir Pequeñas Producciones 2008 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Meaty, spicy edge of bacon fat on the nose. Fresh with some savoury notes. The palate is quite elegant with nice texture and sweet cherry and berry fruit. Nice purity with some savoury, earthy, spicy notes. 91/100

Casas del Bosque Syrah Gran Reserva 2008 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Fresh, vivid black cherry and red berry fruit with a hint of pepper on the  nose. The palate is fresh with some nice meatiness. Peppery and fine with some elegance. 90/100

Casas del Bosque Syrah Pequeñas Producciones 2008 Casablanca Valley, Chile
Dense berry fruits nose with some ripe cherry and a hint of olive and meat. Dense but fresh. Very fine, elegant and floral on the palate with lovely berryish fruit. Fabulous. 91/100

Casas del Bosque Gran Bosque 2008 Rapel, Chile
A big, heavy bottle. Dense spicy, mineral nose with a chalky gravelly edge to the dark fruits. The palate is dense, sweet with some gravel notes under the sweet fruit. Great concentration. 89/100


Part 1, Dos Andes: Veranda and Agustinos, Bio Bio
Part 2, Viña Leyda, Leyda
Part 3, Viña Ventisquero, Apalta
Part 4, Viña Tabalí, Limarí
Part 5, Casas del Bosque, Casablanca
Part 6, Viña Falernia/Mayu, Elqui

See also:

Photographs from Limari Valley, Chile
Visiting Chile's wine regions (a series from a visit in 2008)

Published 07/12  
Wines tasted 12/10

Find these wines with

Back to top