All Eyes on Brazil
This summer everyone has got eyes on Brazil. Yet, what comes to mind when we usually think of this country is mostly football, carnival and long hot sandy beaches. However, Brazil isn’t just about samba and coconuts falling down from the luscious Amazon’s forest. The place is also a great wine country which over the last 15 years has progressed enormously in winemaking.
Brazil’s wine heritage goes back to its colonisation and it was due to the first huge wave of Italian immigrants in 1875 that winemaking was consolidated as a proper commercial activity.
Brazil's Wine History
Here’s a few facts and figures about Brazil’s wine scene. There are 83,700 hectares of vineyards in the whole country divided into six regions: Serra Gaúcha, Campanha, Serra do Sudeste and Campos de Cima da Serra, no Rio Grande do Sul, Planalto Catarinense, in Santa Catarina, and Vale do São Francisco, in the northeast of Brazil. The 1,100 wineries around the country boast for 2 hectares of land for each grower and make the production focused on small-artisan family businesses.
In the picturesque north-east corner from Puerto Alegre, the most famous wine region Serra Gaucha is the home of the only two certified wine production areas in the country. Vale dos Vinhedos, which occupies 72.45 square kilometres and it was a pioneer in getting the Designation of Origin (DO) for their labels. Then Pinto Bandeira obtained the Geographical Indication (GI) for products made in an 81.38 square kilometre area between Bento Gonçalves and Farroupilha.
The basaltic soil and the cool humid hot season are the perfect environment to grow a large selection of grapes. Brazil in fact cultivates many: Chardonnay, Muscat, Riesling Italico, Malvasia, Cabernet Franc,Tannat, Ancellotta, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
According to international wine critics, Brazilian sparkling wines are one of the best within the southern Hemisphere. UK Wine critic Steven Spurrier has recently held a blind tasting panel featuring international sparkling wines and no doubt Brazilian bubbles scored best.
Mostly produced following the Charmat method (the same for Prosecco), interesting labels are Giacomin Brut, of Giacomin Winery, and Cordelier Brut, of Fante Industria de Bebidas. Traditional method are also the flagship of the country, the best are Miolo Milesime, of Miolo Wine Group and Cave Geisse Blanc de Blanc, of Vinicola Geisse.
At the moment, sparkling wines are defining the style of Brazilian wines but this will be slowly evolving in the next few years. Sweet Muscat and savoury easy-drinking reds will also be an exciting and sweet spot to watch out for in the future.
Wine and Food
The diversity of Brazilian wines mirrors perfectly with their colourful and varied cuisine. Feijoada is the most amazing Brazilian bean soup with spicy cured pork which matches perfectly the sparkling Pinot Noir Brut Nature from Serra Gaucha where the high acidity will cut through the fat of the pork.
Pao de queijo, Brazilian’s cheese bread will also go nicely with a buttery Chardonnay from the south-east regions of Seera do Sudeste and Campanha.
Finally the lovely sweet Muscat will match any dessert especially caramel fudge or condensed milk puddings and ice cream.
Wine Travel Ideas
Now it’s time to wine-travel so here is a pick of some Brazilian wine holiday ideas:
The Vale dos Vinhedos, in the south province of Rio Grande do Sul.
Visit: Miolo winery, based over the road from Villa Europa.
Taste: Quinta do Seival Castas Portuguesas and the sparkling Miolo Millesime.
Grape Towns: Garibaldi and Bento Gonçalves are the hub of bubbly production.
Winery: Casa Valduga, take a tour with the winemaker and discover how Brazilian bubbles are made!