Viñedos de Alcohuaz
Elqui Valley, Chile
Three factors make the wines of Viñedos de Alcohuaz: the sun, its granite soils and the altitude of the high Andes. Located on the 30th parallel south, at heights of 1,650 to 2,206 metres, these are unmistakably wines of altitude. This is Elqui in northern Chile. It is an extreme landscape with an inexplicable magnetism, that has attracted travellers, astronomers and winemakers in recent decades. Here you can find some of the clearest skies on Earth. It is a stargazer's paradise, the bridge between worlds, a meeting place of earth and sky. Into this special place, drawn by its energy, stepped a dreamer, Álvaro Flaño. He was supported by his son, Patricio and they were later joined by one of Chile's most respected winemakers, Marcelo Retamal, intrigued by this winemaking adventure.
The vines planted here are some of the highest in Chile. And the Carignan vines at 2,188 metres are probably the highest plantings of that variety in the world. Everything at Viñedos de Alcohuaz is done with respect for tradition and the environment. These are wines from the Andes, marked by the granite soils and the intensity of the sun. The grapes from this part of Chile have naturally thicker skins to protect them from the sunlight. This gives them extra colour and intensity of flavour. And while they ripen during the day, the temperature drops drastically at night, preserving their natural freshness. The focus in the winery is producing balanced wines with as little intervention as possible, allowing the character of the grape and place to shine through. The grapes are first crushed by foot in a granite trough. This allows for a smooth and gentle first extraction of colour and tannins. Fermentation is spontaneous, with natural yeasts. Depending on the wines are then aged in different containers; the Syrah in large, 2,500 litre, barrels, the Grenache, Carignan and Malbec in concrete tanks and eggs. Although the winery was only founded in 2005, the wines swiftly caused a sensation, praised by critics for their tension and purity.
Bold and adventurous travellers are welcome to visit the winery for a tour and tasting. There is also a wine shop on site, so you can purchase any of the wines that draw you in with their dynamic appeal.