Think of Brazil and things like samba, football, and perhaps caipirinhas come to mind. But wine? Brazilian wine is not obvious and therefore ticks all the boxes for the fourth article in our series of “new latitude”wines. Check out the first article here.
Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and covers large parts of South America. It stretches from Venezuela in the north, to Uruguay and Argentina in the south. Surely, there must be some suitable areas to grow vines? Indeed, there are, and most of the country’s wine-growing area are in the cooler regions in the south, not far from Uruguay and Argentina. Brazil ranks 14th on the list of the world’s biggest wine producers. Serra Gaucha, in the Rio Grande do Sul state is where Brazil’s wine industry is concentrated. Its best wines are from Vale dos Vinhedos.
Widely cultivated varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. The country produces some very good still wines, but has also proven to make some quality sparkling wine.
Two producers to highlight are Casa Valduga and Vinicola Aurora. Both producers have been around for a long time and played a huge role in the development of the Brazilian wine-making industry. The wineries have received international recognition in various wine competitions.
Casa Valduga has the ambition of being the best Brazilian wine maker and they might well be already. Besides producing some quality still wines (Cab Sav, Merlot, Chardonnay), the family has become the undefeated champion in sparkling wines following the Traditional Method originally developed in Champagne. They offer a range of eight sparklers, the top of the range being their “Maria Valduga” – a tribute to the family matriarch. The winery has the biggest sparkling wine cellar in South America. Surely worth a visit if you are ever around because you can even create your own sparkling wine there.
Vinicola Aurora is a cooperative (over 1,100 members in the community) and producer of still and sparkling wines as well as unfermented grape juice. Its wines are exported to over 20 countries and therefore a major player in the Brazilian wine industry. Try to get your hands on the Millesimé – their best wine only produced in the best years. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 12 months in French and American oak, typical new-world Bordeaux style.
Compared to Chile and Argentina, Brazilian wines have been slow to rise on the export market and therefore unknown to the public, so there are still plenty of hidden gems to be discovered. Have you ever tried any Brazilian wine? Share your experience with us in the comments below.
Albert & Willem