I still have very fond memories of a trip to Chile several years ago when I visited the stunning Elqui Valley on the edge of the Atacama desert. I spent one day with Viña Falernia, the pioneer and biggest name of this remote wine growing region, which enjoys 320 absolutely cloudless days and nights per year and one of the cleanest, purest atmospheres on earth.
Viña Falernia is a family-owned and run company, where Giorgio Flessati, a native of Trentino in Northern Italy, splits his time between the two countries. The Falernia (and indeed modern day Elqui) story began in 1998 when Giorgio and local Pisco producer Aldo Olivier got together and hatched a plan to make wine in Elqui. They planted on various sites, including the boulder-strewn ‘Pedragal’, an old river bed now planted with Syrah, Carmenère and a little Cabernet Sauvignon. The company was for a long time the sole producer based in the Valley, making wines under the Falernia and Mayu labels.
I was intrigued to hear that UK wine retailer Perfect Cellar had just launched a joint venture with Falernia, to make a range of wines called The Number One Estate collection. The six wines in the collection, three blends and three varietal wines, represent the main grapes being grown in Elqui (apart from Pedro Ximenez, an important grape for dry white wines in the region), and I recently had the opportunity to try three of them.
Wine available from Perfect Cellar