Bargains from Spain and Chile
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The Independent Culture
CARLOS Falco, Marquis of Grinon and second cousin to the Spanish King, makes regular appearances in Hol!, the Spanish version of Hello! In wine circles he is equally famous for the wines bearing his aristocratic name. After a link-up with the Rioja house of Berberana, there is a good range of Marques de Grinon Riojas, and another of wines from the Duero- side regions of Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro, named Durius. It has so far been the Cabernet Sauvignon that made his fame amongst wine buffs. Now he has released an estate wine from eight-year-old Syrah vines, the grape of the great wines of the Northern Rhone, and the Shiraz of Australia. 1993 Marques de Grinon Dominio de Valdepusa Syrah (pounds 7.99 Fullers and selected Tesco) claims to be the first Spanish Syrah. It will be hard to beat with its soft, silky, blackberry and liquorice fruit and seductive vanilla oak. Carlos Falco studied agriculture in Belgium and California in the mid-Sixties, returning to the family estate with the idea of planting Cabernet Sauvignon, at that time scarcely grown in Spain. Look out for a new Chardonnay this Autumn.

SOME of the most stunning value Rioja at the moment comes from Campillo. The immaculate, cathedral-like Campillo winery was built in 1990, but its owners, the respected Rioja firm of Faustino Martinez, have already been setting aside some of their best wines to get the Campillo name off to an early start. Gentle but rich 1989 Campillo Crianza (pounds 4.99 Asda) tastes far classier than its price, full of lovely, ripe, wild strawberry fruit with a touch of "farmyardy" complexity. Classier still is the 1985 Campillo Rioja Gran Reserva (pounds 9.95 Waitrose and selected Tesco), a fine subtle wine, again with lovely, rich, wild strawberry fruit, mature now but with a few years' life still in it yet. Both are made solely from Spain's finest red grape, the Tempranillo, unlike most red Riojas, which are a blend, and either would make an ideal partner for Easter spring lamb.

STILL in Spanish mode, over to Chile. If you are looking for good everyday or party wine, Los Fundos (pounds 2.99 Fullers) are excellent value. The white is lemony, crisp and attractive, the red soft, medium-bodied, fruity and very easy-drinking. Also brilliant value from Chile is the deliciously gluggable, grassy and tropical fruity 1995 Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley (pounds 4.49 Oddbins). 1994 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay (pounds 4.99 Safeway) is rich, pineappley and gently oaky, 1995 Casa Porta Chardonnay, Valle del Cachapoal (pounds 4.99 Oddbins) big and full of exotic, ripe fruit and buttery flavour.