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Chile remains one of the few regions of the world with pre-phylloxera vines on their own roots, and there are 64,530ha (161,000 acres) of them. Despite a switch to more internationally accepted grape varieties -Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay - the grape used for local wines, Pais, remains the most widely planted variety, covering 27,000ha (67,000 acres). Cabernet Sauvignon is the second most widely planted red grape. Among whites, S6millon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay account for about half of the total. Chardonnay is expected to be the most widely planted white grape by the year 2000.

The youthful appeal of its red wines - Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot - placed Chile in the international limelight. Both noble varieties develop a deep, intense purple colour and an aroma of berries, herbs and spices, but they often lack tannic astringency. Oak-ageing was introduced to give both reds greater depth and ageability. It is hoped that by restricting yields and following classic winemaking procedures, the quality of Chile's Chardonnays will be raised. Many experts believe that Sauvignon Blanc has even greater potential to be Chile's best white.

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