The Limarí Valley lies along the south border of the Atacama desert, the driest place on earth. The Valley is both an old and new wine region. Vines were first planted in the mid-16th century, but new technology has led terroir-hunting winemakers to take a fresh look at this curious territory. In the 90's it was discovered that the nearby Valley Limarí was suitable for the cultivation of noble strains. Climatic and soils conditions similar to Elqui, allowed here the origin of almost 1,700 hectares of vineyards. As in the Elqui Valley, many archaeological remains were found here.
It is also found Fray Jorge National Park, known for its beauty. This area is characterized by a humid microclimate due to coastal fog called “Camanchaca”, a cooling fog which creeps into the valley from the west each morning and retreats as the sun rises over the Andes and bathes the vines in pure light in the afternoon. With less than 4 inches of rainfall per year, drip irrigation with the barest amount of water, allows the vines to flourish as their roots dig deep into the mineral-rich soil. The combination creates fresh and concentrated wines with a distinct mineral edge.
Our Chono and Rayun Reserva Chardonnay 2012 will come from our Limarí Valley Estate which has a prime location along the Limarí River, with hillside vineyards facing cool Pacific Ocean breezes. Lower elevation also means less shade, for the brilliant sunlight and higher temperatures that promote vigorous grape growth. High daytime and low nighttime temperature variations contribute concentrated color, aroma and flavor to the grapes (dry days yield remarkably healthy fruit, while cool nights allow the vines to rest and use their sugars to synthesize aromatic substances). Despite the morning mist and dense coastal fog, water is scarce.
Chardonnay is the star variety of Limarí. It appreciates the cool climate, the mineral content and the limestone in the soil. Syrah is also a success here, with a fruit y style, typical found in Syrah wines from cold weather.
This microclimate, combined with a unique limestone bed buried under Limarí Valley's alluvial clay soils, is perfect for white grapes. Poor soils generate stressed vines and low yield, which allow the aromas and colors to concentrate in the fruit instead of feeding the leaves. Variations in soil composition and depth, along with an irregular landscape marked by slopes, creeks, and hillside planting facilitate optimum environments for individual varieties.
These natural conditions encourage grapes to ripen slowly, promoting crisp natural acidity and outstanding development of aromas. The wines show a very appealing flinty quality resulting from desert soil rich in minerals, calcium and salt.
Soil types of limestone found in the Limarí Valley are rare in Chilean terroirs. They were formed from ancient seabeds and the tectonic activity of the Andes, which material was carried with the hilly interfluves.