Love Wine Month: Focus on Brazil
“The sparkling blends are the best Brazil has to offer at the moment”Claudio Martins
On Monday 18 February New Street Wine invited Master of Wine Dirceu Junior to host a tasting of Brazilian label, Miolo. This week follows live music, and a Brazilian takeover of the instore enomatic machine, to introduce its customers to a country that’s getting serious about its grapes.
Brazil has upped its game in the wine stakes over the past 15 to 20 years, with a lot of investment coming from European countries and older producers making the effort to expand internationally.
Brazilians have been producing wines since the Italians emigrated in the second half of the 19th century, bringing their grapes and expertise with them. But their approach has, until fairly recently, been a relaxed one with the locals favouring their beers and cachaça spirit (found in Caipirinha cocktails).
However, there are now 1,100 wine producers in Brazil, covering 83,000 hectares of land. Five of the six main wine regions are found in the European climes of the south, where 100 different types of moscato grapes make sparkling wines particularly common and very popular nationally.
These are beginning to be appreciated across the globe too, with esteemed writer and Master of Wine Jancis Robinson, choosing to present the Casa Valduga at the 2011 Wine Future Conference in Hong Kong. Indeed, for Claudio the sparkling blends are the best Brazil has to offer at the moment. “They use the same grape blends as Champagne,” he says, “and produce fresh, rich, elegant fizz that when drunk in the right atmosphere taste even better.”
Above: Dirceu Junior (left) with Claudio Martins (right)
The hot, arid climate of the north of Brazil makes it harder to produce good quality wines and as a result there’s only one main wine-producing region, Vale de Sao Francisco. However, this climate enables the grapes to be harvested at least twice a year, enabling producers to pick the best of the cabernet sauvignon, merlots and pinot noirs and consequently producing some very light reds with fantastic aromas.
The main obstacle Brazilian wines have to overcome in Europe is their youth. The fresh and fruity character suits the domestic market perfectly, but here we more commonly opt for the prestige that comes with age and good vintages. That said, wines produced in Campanha, close to on the Uruguay border, have particularly good structure and acidity, and are especially showing potential to age well.
The tasting proved that already Brazilian wines go across the range with crisp, clean whites and reds that range from fresh and fruity to structured and serious. In Santa Catarina, they are even producing ice wines. Dirceu Junior said: “The objective, aside from enjoying ourselves, was to convince guests that a non-traditional wine-producing country can produce world-class wine. Judging by everyone’s reaction, we achieved that.”
Now couldn’t be a better time to purchase a couple of bottles, one to taste immediately and the other to save for a few years’ time...