GRAPEVINE / Kathryn McWhirter meets some bright young things from Chile

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The Independent Culture
EL ARTISTA they call him in Chile. The innovative Ignacio Recabarren is one of the few Chilean winemakers to have worked abroad - his CV includes Chateaux Lafite and Margaux, Cloudy Bay in New Zealand, Rosemount and Coldstream Hills in Australia. Two of his successes are the wines of Santa Carolina and Casablanca, which have more subtlety and individuality than most of their compatriots. My favourites among the whites are ****1992 Santa Carolina Special Reserve Chardonnay, Santa Rosa Vineyard ( pounds 5.99 Safeway), soft and rich, with lovely biscuity, honeyed and pineappley flavours, and ****1992 Casablanca Valley Chardonnay, Santa Isabel Estate ( pounds 7.68 The Nobody Inn of Doddiscombsleigh near Exeter, pounds 7.95 selected Sainsbury's, Premier Wine Warehouse of London SW6), rich, soft, concentrated and well-balanced, with ripe fruit and bready and honeyed flavours. The peachy, nicely oaky ***1993 Casablanca Valley Chardonnay, Santa Isabel Estate ( pounds 6.99 Oddbins) is also very good and the ***1993 Casablanca Chardonnay ( pounds 4.99 Oddbins) is good value, with its well-balanced oak, rich- fruit honeyed flavour. The Sauvignons, softer and riper than their New Zealand cousins, include a crisp, gooseberry-flavoured ***1993 Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc ( pounds 4.99 Oddbins and William Low, pounds 4.95 Booths of Stockport); a ripe and concentrated, grassy and gooseberry-fruity ***1993 Casablanca Valley Sauvignon Blanc ( pounds 6.99 Oddbins), and a good, crisp, fullish-bodied **1993 Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Rosa Vineyard ( pounds 3.99 Oddbins, pounds 4.29 selected branches of Cellar 5 and Berkeley wines; pounds 4.29 Wineways of Leeds, Scarborough, Manchester, Bingley and Bradford from 1 February). 'Cinco Estrellas' means 'five stars'; well, perhaps not quite, but certainly **** to 1989 Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva, Cinco Estrellas, Chile ( pounds 6.99 Oddbins, pounds 7.95 selected Sainsbury's). ***1988 Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve ( pounds 4.95 selected Sainsbury's) is intensely Ribena-fruity, honeyed and treacly, with some tannin.

STAR RATING: ****complex and exciting; ***excellent, **very good