Vina Falernia Number One Estate

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.

no-1-labelViña 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.

The Wines

(2016) Fairly subdued on the nose, this is about delicate lime and blossom, without the pungent mineral character of some of the best Rieslings. That story continues on the palate, where the gossamer delicacy and gentleness is pleasing, but it does just lack a bit of real character.
(2016) A nice, soft and mellow colour, and brackeny aromas of mushrooms and briar, a warming chestnut and soft berry fruit. In the mouth it has medium body and good acidity, giving it some energy through the mid palate of those berry and briar flavours, a touch of toast and spice, and a decent length of finish.
(2016) Big, heavy bottle for this range-topping blend, the Cab and Shiraz aged in French oak, the Carmenere in French and American oak, before blending. Deep, with mocha and cassis in abundance, a touch of graphite, and a spicy, mulberry richness. In the mouth the sweetness of the fruit fills the mid-palate, but the spice and touch of char from the barrels and tannins adds depth, and there is good acidity to keep the picture juicy and fresh, into a nice, long, fruit and spice finish. Should have a few years cellaring potential too.

Wine available from Perfect Cellar

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