Viñedos de Alcohuaz: superb biodynamic wines from Elqui in Chile

It’s been almost eight years since I visited Elqui, and the bright light and primeval, stunning scenery is still with me today. It’s the perfect place for star gazing because of the lack of light pollution, and the number of clear nights here.

Alcohuaz is a small village high up in the Elqui Valley. Alvaro Flano and his son Patricio bought land here and started planting vineyards as high up as 2200 metres, in collaboration with Juan Luis Huerta and his wife Helia Rojas, and winemaker Marcelo Retamal (from De Martino).

The terroir here is extreme: practically desert, with granitic and volcanic soils with a high mineral content, and huge diurnal temperature swings. Winemaking is quite natural: foot treading and fermentation in granite lagares, then aging in concrete and large wood vessels.

Cuesta Chica de Alcohuaz Garnacha 2015 Elqui, Chile
13.5% alcohol. Vivid and lively with some warm, sweet, liqueur-like cherry and plum fruit, together with some savoury spicy hints, a twist of pepper and some fine herbal hints. Very bright with good acidity and freshness and focus to the fruit. Needs a little time to come together. A tiny bit bitter on the finish. 91/100

Crus de Alcohuaz Mezcla Tinta 2016 Elqui, Chile
13% alcohol. 56% Syrah, 21% Garnacha, 14 Petite Sirah, 9% Petit Verdot, from 1850 m. Subtle chocolatey, spicy edge to the fresh black fruits nose. The palate is fresh and vivid with beautifully supple blackberry and black cherry fruit. Expressive with a nice sappy edge to the vivid fruit. So well balanced with a lovely silky midpalate. 93/100

Rhu de Alcohuaz Mezcle Tinta 2012 Elqui, Chile
13.5% alcohol. 73% Syrah, 18% Garnacha, 9% Petit Verdot. There’s a hint of cedar and spice here, sitting alongside the ripe but nicely defined blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. Has a lovely supple, fleshy structure but it’s also very fresh. Intriguing stuff with a nice developed, savoury character sitting under the fruit. Ripe but balanced. 92/100

La Era de Alcohuaz Malbec 2015 Elqui, Chile
13% alcohol. Supple and fresh with a pleasant, sappy green edge to the fresh, textured blackberry fruit. Juicy and lively with a stony, bright edge. Picked early, this has so much vitality. Juicy and focused with nice precision, and perhaps even a hint of mint. 92/100

Tococo de Alcohuaz Syrah 2015 Elqui, Chile
13% alcohol. Fresh, lively and a bit sappy with some nice grip. Some stems here? Supple, grainy herb-tinged black cherry fruit with some nice reductive hints. Has nice juiciness. Sappy and quite focused with potential for development. 93/100

UK agent: Indigo Wine

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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