Brazilian wine has long fascinated me since I first heard about their production of top-quality sparklers. When a friend of mine, Glen, who is my partner in crime and travel—as well as an expert in the food, wine and history of Brazil, recently learned that I was undertaking some serious study of wine, he began pestering me to check out Brazilian wine. Not only was I recently able to visit said friend in Rio de Janeiro, but I also was able to taste a whole slate of fantastic wines in New York at a recent Wines of Brazil Grand Tasting.
Brazilian wine production is centered in the south of Brazil with Serra Gaúcha being the largest and most prolific region. Their wines are noted for being fresh and fruity with moderate alcohol content. Typically Brazilian vineyards are small properties that eschew irrigation and employ hand harvesting.
Brazilian wine is set to explode in the next few years. Brazil is establishing itself as the strongest economy in South America and their wine industry has recently made a tremendous investment in technological innovation and vineyard management. While many already are mad for Brazilian exports such as Samba, incredible soccer players, and the meat palace Fogo de Chão, most have not had the opportunity to try Brazil’s fantastic wines.
Though my trip to Brazil a few weeks ago was filled with quite a lot of Cachaça (Brazilian rum), I also had the opportunity to enjoy some great sparkling and still wine as well. On this trip I didn’t make it down to the wine country, staying in Rio and Buzios, but that did not keep me from seeking out some national wines. I was immediately shocked as, when I requested sparkling wine to toast my friends birthday, we were served Prosecco! After learning about the history of Brazilian wine it made much more sense: 90% of winemaking families in Brazil have Italian ancestry. Brazil is much more than sparkling wines however, and after my amazing trip there I was thrilled for the opportunity to try the best that Brazil has to offer at the Wines of Brazil tasting.
One of my favorite wineries was Lidio Carraro, which is the first boutique winery in Brazil to operate exclusively with premium wines. The Carraro family is one of the oldest winemaking families in Brazil and one of the first to export to the United States. I was excited to hear that they also have a female winemaker, Monica Rossetti, who is passionate about eco- friendly winemaking. Their Dádivas Chardonnay, 2010 is a stunner with a nose of pineapple and that leads to a rich palate of tropical fruit. It finishes with a refreshing acidity and would be a perfect pairing for a roast chicken or creamy D’Affinois cheese and preserved walnuts.
Lidio Carraro also has a fantastic Touriga Nacional/Tannat 2008, which stood out to me due to its intensely floral nose. Notes of jasmine led to a jammy palate of red fruits, chocolate and sweet spice. It has a lovely weight in the mouth and a long seductive finish. Touriga Nacional is one of Portugal’s finest grapes, used primarily for the production of Port. Tannat hails from the southwest of France and is also national grape of Uruguay which makes this wine is truly and expression of the melting pot that is Brazilian winemaking. A nice backbone of tannins begs for this wine to be paired with stewed beef or oxtail.
With Brazil being the site of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 Brazilian wine hopefully will be taking center stage as the “next big thing” in the wine world. These wines are becoming more and more available in the United States, so jump at the chance to try them out next time you see them at your local wine shop or restaurant.
A couple more Brazilian favorites:
Miolo’s Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2010: A revelation for those who are wary of mass market Pinot Grigio. One of the best producers in Brazil has created a flavorful 100% Pinot Grigio wine that has a nose of flowers and peach, which lead to a palate full of ripe rich peaches. This beauty is a great pairing with pork loin.
Salton Moscatel, NV: With 40% of the Sparkling Market Salton has some of the best Brazilian sparklers to be found. This Moscatel has a lovely nose of green apple and tropical fruits leading to a palate with fine bubbles. and intense fruit. It has a refreshing sweetness that is refreshing rather than cloying and would be a great pairing for peach cobbler or white cake.
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