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Elqui Valley Wine

The Elqui Valley wine region is located 250 miles (400km) north of the Chilean capital, Santiago, at the very southern edge of the Atacama Desert. Its latitude of 29° makes it Chile's northernmost wine region, for now at least; the country's determined wine pioneers are now setting their sights as far north as the Atacama. Traditionally the region focused exclusively on producing Chile's trademark brandy, Pisco, but today Elqui Valley vineyards are producing bright, intensely aromatic wines, most notably from Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.

As might be expected in an arid, largely uninhabited region surrounded by desert, the valley is hot and dry; irrigation is essential in all vineyards here. The Elqui province is famous for its bright sunshine, pure air and clear skies (the region is home to a number of astronomical observatories). Vineyards here receive far higher levels of solar radiation than any European wine region, and this seems to translate into the wine style. The vibrant intensity of Elqui Valley wines, when yields and potential alcohol are kept in check, can be quite remarkable.

Altitude & Irrigation, Elqui Valley

The secret to successful viticulture this close to the equator is altitude. Elqui's vineyards sit up to 6550ft (2000m) above sea level, which means that the warm, bright, days are followed by cool, fresh nights. This diurnal temperature variation lengthens the grape growing season, which in turn allows the grapes time to develop intense varietal character, while retaining refreshing levels of acidity.

Wineries all over Chile now focus heavily on the altitude of their vineyards. Altitude has become as much a marketing tool as a key element of terroir. The effect is even more obvious across the border in Argentina, most notably in Salta.

There is no major north-south valley here between the coastal range and the Andes Mountains – just a series of spectacular transverse valleys that deliver precious Andean melt-water to the region's vineyards. Almost all of the region's agriculture centers around these valleys. Table wine was first produced here in the 1990s, when Chilean producers began to seek out new regions beyond the obvious locations in the Central Valley. The region is now home to 700 acres (280ha) of vines, located mostly alongside the various rivers; irrigation is essential in this hot, dry region.

The name Elqui means 'narrow valley' in the local Quechua language, which perfectly sums up to local geography. Mountains line the valley on either side, rising up to over 3300ft (1000m) in places. The soils here are rocky and thin, with some chalky components, and their good drainage (combined with low annual rainfall) means that grape growers are able to control yields and vegetation growth through irrigation. Closer to the Pacific Ocean at lower altitudes, the soils are more clay- and silt-based. 

Alongside Sauvignon and Syrah, the Elqui Valley is also home to plantings of Chardonnay, Carmenere and Pedro Ximenez. It is one of Chile's up-and-coming regions, and its wines are attracting attention from international critics and consumers alike.

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We found 56 wines produced in this region.
Wine Name
Grape 
Popularity
Vina Falernia Reserva Carmenere, Elqui Valley, Chile Carmenere $15 4448
Vina Falernia Syrah Reserva, Elqui Valley, Chile Syrah $15 8543
Vina Falernia Antakari Carmenere - Syrah, Elqui Valley, Chile Carmenere - Syrah $13 10091
Geo Wines Chono Reserva Syrah, Elqui Valley, Chile Syrah $11 11055
Mayu Syrah Reserva, Elqui Valley, Chile Syrah $18 15324
San Pedro Castillo de Molina Reserva Elqui Sauvignon Blanc, Chile Sauvignon Blanc $11 15784
Capel Moai Reservado Pisco, Elqui Valley, Chile Muscat $27 18152
Geo Wines Cucao PX Pedro Ximenez, Elqui Valley, Chile Pedro Ximenez $10 19467
Vina Falernia Syrah, Elqui Valley, Chile Syrah $13 22482
Vina Falernia Carmenere - Syrah Reserva, Elqui Valley, Chile Carmenere - Syrah $11 23502
Vina Falernia Carmenere, Elqui Valley, Chile Carmenere $11 24214
Mayu Reserva Carmenere, Elqui Valley, Chile Carmenere $15 24422
40 Fuegos Pisco, Elqui Valley, Chile Pisco $23 27768
Vina Falernia Pedro Jimenez, Elqui Valley, Chile Pedro Ximenez $10 29089
Vina Falernia Sauvignon Blanc, Elqui Valley, Chile Sauvignon Blanc $11 30509
Elki Pedro Ximenez, Elqui Valley, Chile Pedro Ximenez $11 34970
San Pedro Kankana del Elqui Solar No 10 Syrah, Elqui Valley, Chile Syrah $47 43529
Vina Falernia Pedro Ximenez Reserva, Elqui Valley, Chile Pedro Ximenez $13 59066
Vina Falernia Estate Alta Tierra Titon Vineyard Chardonnay, Elqui Valley, Chile Chardonnay $15 60588
Geo Wines Chono Reserva Carmenere - Syrah, Elqui Valley, Chile Carmenere - Syrah $13 62274
Mayu Estate Bottled Sangiovese, Elqui Valley, Chile Sangiovese (Nielluccio) $8 66940
Mayu Pedro Ximenez, Elqui Valley, Chile Pedro Ximenez $13 66940
Mayu Sauvignon Blanc, Elqui Valley, Chile Sauvignon Blanc $13 72420
Vina Falernia Sangiovese, Elqui Valley, Chile Sangiovese (Nielluccio) $10 72420
Elki Sauvignon Blanc, Elqui Valley, Chile Sauvignon Blanc $11 79137
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