Is it possible for a wine region 480+ years old to be a new discovery? Have you had wines from Brazil? Until a few weeks ago neither had I. According to Jancis Robinson Brazil is the third most important producer in terms of quality in South America, but there is a caveat; most of the wines they produce are consumed locally. Ah, ha. So it is not just me. Let’s take a look at this up and coming wine region.
The Portuguese took control of Brazil in the early 16th century. Shortly after, they brought grape vines to the country in 1532. However, viticulture was not an important component of the Brazilian culture until the Italians arrived in the late 19th century. (Gotta love the Italians!) The following century wine was produced and consumed locally. This all changed at the turn of the century when in the early 1900’s Brazilian wines were allowed to be exported. Today Brazil is the 5th largest wine producer in the Southern Hemisphere, between 2005 and 2015 sales of grape juice has risen 367%! Over the past 15 years the Brazilian wine industry has invested in modern technology and improved vineyard management, gaining recognition with over 3,000 international awards.
Brazil’s grapes are grown mostly in the south and eastern part of the country. Grape growing has become an important industry in Brazil; however, most of the growers are still small family businesses. There are a total of 14,417 grape growing properties, averaging 17.4 hectares each (43 acres). There are currently over 240 varieties growing in Brazil and 1100 wineries.
Brazil’s wine production is divided into six main regions: Serra Gaúcha, Campanha, Serra do Sudeste and Campos de Cima da Serra, in Rio Grande do Sul, Planalto Catarinense, in Santa Catarina, and Vale do São Francisco, in northeastern Brazil.
The Serra Gaúcha is a rainy, high elevation region that produces 85% of the nation’s wine. It is the cradle of Brazilian wines because it is here to Italian immigrants settled in the late 19th century. It was historically known for red wines but today its sparkling wines have gained much recognition. The five certified oenological production areas of Brazil are located in Serra Gaúcha. Val dos Vinhedos, a sub-region, was the first to seek DO status for its wines. Another sub-region, Pinto Bandeira is known for its IO wines. Here are 6 wines from the Serra Gaúcha region.
2014 Lidio Carraro Da’Divas Chardonnay Serra Gaúcha Brazil ($15): 100% Chardonnay; medium gold; medium intense complex aromas of ripe yellow apples and pears, yellow nectarine, lemon zest, honeysuckle, sulfur, brioche, nutmeg, butterscotch; medium+ acidity, and body, pronounced flavor intensity of under-ripe apples, pears, and white nectarines, white pepper, tomato leaf, bread dough, charred wood with a medium+ finish.
NV Salton Reserva Ouro Espumante Serra Gaúcha Brazil ($16): 60% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, 20% Riesling; pale lemon; medium youthful aromas of under-ripe apples and pears, lemon zest, bread, nutmeg, almonds, wet stone; dry; medium acidity, medium- body, delicate mousse crafted using the charmat method like Prosecco; medium finish;
NV Casa Valduga 130 Brut Val dos Vinhedos Brazil ($30): 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir; pale lemon; clean medium- youthful, complex aromas of apples, pears, yellow nectarines, raspberry crème, violets, pastry, cloves, butterscotch; dry, persistent creamy mousse, crafted using metodo tradicional; medium acidity and flavor intensity; light body, medium finish
2012 Cave Geisse Blanc de Blanc Brut Pinto Bandeira Brazil ($45): 100% Chardonnay; clear pale lemon; clean medium youthful complex aromas of yellow apple, pear, nectarine, acacia, lemon zest, wet stone, biscuit, caramel; dry, medium acidity, light body, delicate mousse, crafted using metodo tradicional; medium finish;
2015 Macaw Tannat Serra Gaúcha Brazil ($15): 100% Tannat; clear, medium ruby; clean medium+ youthful simple aromas of candied violets, jammed cherry, blackberry, black currant, cranberry, eucalyptus, licorice, chocolate; dry, medium acidity, tannins, and body, medium- flavor intensity of red cherries, raspberries, black currants, red licorice, eucalyptus, chocolate; medium finish
2013 Miolo Cuvee Giuseppe Val Dos Vinhedos Brazil ($25): 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from producers best vineyards; clear deep ruby; clean medium+ youthful aromas of candied roses, blackberries, black cherry, plum, black currant, stewed, licorice, milk chocolate, fresh tobacco leaves; dry; medium acidity, medium+ tannins, medium body, medium flavor intensity of plums, black cherry, currant, charred wood, black currant leaf; medium finish