Some parts of Brazil are certainly tropical but it is a big country. In the colder south, near the border to Uruguay, the climate is well suited to wine growing. We visited the vineyards in this area this last summer (winter, that is, on location) and were much impressed by the quality. Much of the wine produced is sparkling, either with a second fermentation in the bottle or in tank. Second fermentation in tank is called the ‘charmat method’ and was introduced in Brazil in the 1950s by the Frenchman Georges Aubert. Some charmat wines are even made with an extended aging in tank (on the lees) which gives added complexity and toastiness. One example is the Domaine Chandon (yes, the name is familiar!), who has specialised in charmat wines. Moscatel Espumante is an important product and it is often made with grapes coming from Vale do São Fransisco, with tropical climate almost at the equator. They even get two harvests per year here! The Italian Moscato Bianco is the main grape but they also grow Shiraz. Moscatel Espumante is made in the same way as the Italian wines from Asti. The wine style was introduced by Martini Rossi in the 70s. The wines work well as a slightly sweet aperitif, low in alcohol with flowery and tutti-frutti aromas. Perhaps a future low-alcohol fad?
The bulk of Brazilian wine production is very simple wines made from American varieties and only sold locally. Wine that we need not spend many words on. But some ambitious producers make wines from Vinifera varieties and have replanting programs under way. One example is the Pizzato brothers (on brother is getting some international experience at Herdade Espoao in Alentejo in Portugal). They have specialised in Merlot. Pizzato is a small producer in Brazilian terms, having no more than 26 hectares. The family emigrated from Veneto in Italy in the 1880s and ended up in the Vale dos Vinhedos on the border to Uruguay. The Italian root in the Vale do Vinhedos is very obvious: you can eat superb pasta, many people speak Italian, there are even many signs in Italian. Some of the larger producers that are starting to become know internationally are Miolo, Salton and Casa Valduga.
Read more about Brazilian wines on www.winesfrombrazil.com
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