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Dry conditions fine for Chilean wine
Destinations: Chile wine tour
The grape reigns supreme in South America's wine capital

June 20, 1999
Web posted at: 7:28 a.m. EDT (1128 GMT)

CENTRAL VALLEY, Chile (CNN) -- A severe drought in Chile holds the promise of excellent wines for the country's vintners.

Government authorities rationed water, leaving less for irrigation. This season's grape production has been reduced by an estimated 30 percent.

"The harvest was much shorter this year in the entire country for several reasons, especially the drought," says Angel Germade Barros, general manager of Miguel Torres vineyard.

But the smaller crop is of better quality, possible one of the best crops in the past 20 years. Grapes are smaller, with a richer, more intense flavor, experts say.

"The grains in general have a smaller diameter; they weigh less, and there is a bigger concentration of sugars and acids," says wine expert Fernando Almeda Olle. "In the end, what we obtained with these small grains were very colored wines, particularly in the case of red wine, which is produced with a lot of color and with a strong aroma -- highly concentrated."

Chilean wine, one of the country's main exports, is sold internationally and is gaining in popularity for its quality and reasonable price.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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