4/22/2013

#SnoothPVA: Brazilian Wines Master Class


Hello Friends,

After a wonderful night of enjoying delicious food, good company, and Oregon wine at the Peking Duck House in Manhattan, we kicked off the following morning with a Brazilian Wine Master Class. My kind of breakfast! I was familiar with the region, but due to a lack of availability in my corner of the world (Virginia), I didn’t have any experience with Brazilian wine. Therefore, I was pretty excited to learn and taste through the wines with Mauricio Roloff of Ibravin and Snooth's Editor-in-Chief, Gregory Dal Piaz. “Brazil is a new player in the US wine market place,” says Snooth. The region’s modern wine industry was founded in the late 19th century by Italian immigrants who brought their winemaking culture with them. Brazil is the fifth largest producer in the southern hemisphere behind Argentina, Australia, Chile and South Africa. While the region boasts over 1,100 wineries, they are one of the sleeping giants of the wine world.

The Brazilian Liquid Breakfast


The equator runs through northern Brazil, so the majority of the region’s wines are grown in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul. This region boarders Uruguay and has a more moderate climate. Farmers who choose to grow wine grapes near the equator, where there is an excess of heat, humidity, and sunshine; can churn out two harvests annually by way of vineyard techniques and irrigation. Quality European-style wines, however, made from the more desirable and marketable vinifera varieties, are grown in the south away from the extreme and arid conditions. 

Mauricio Roloff (Ibravin) and Gregory Del Piaz (Snooth)


Chardonnay and Merlot appear to be the leading European workhorse varieties in the region with grapes such as Cabernet Franc, Tannat and others playing a key role in red blends. With a short-to-medium length growing season, a relatively warm climate, and a propensity for dampness during harvest, early ripening varieties are a safer bet than late ripening varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon (even though there are plantings of it). Many sparkling wines made in the traditional method (as they do in Champagne), are popular in Brazil; with a good number of wineries producing bubbly. Less expensive Charmat sparkling wines and Moscato are also popular selections being produced in Brazil that may prove to have good export potential – particularly with Moscato trending as it is with millennials in the US.

"Wine is made for sharing." ~ @WinesOfBrasil


Of the wines we tasted, I found the Chardonnay examples to be well made and pleasant, but not standing out at the $20 price point. Though, the Lidio Carraro Dadivas 2012 Chardonnay, which benefited from sur lie aging, had a nice richness and a matching brightness (without seeing a barrel) that grew on me through the course of the tasting. Many of the reds were refreshing and (fairly) bright with restrained fruit, a mineral edge, light to no oak influence, and an agreeable food-partnering savory character with low-to-moderate alcohol levels. The three Merlot wines from Salton (09), Pizzato (09), and Miolo (09), all in the low-to-mid $20 price range, were all well-made, pleasing, and food-friendly. The 2006 Lidio Carraro Grande Vindima Quorum, a Merlot-based blend priced at $64, had good depth of fruit and length with a lovely texture and lasting finish.

At the Grand Tasting event, I had an opportunity to try the 2006 Lidio Carraro Tannat Grande Vindima. This Tannat retails for $100 and is opaque in color with dense dark fruit, broad tannins, and supporting acidity – clearly a wine built for longevity. One for backyard barbeques and picnic baskets would be the Aurora Carnaval Moscato Rosé N.V. This refreshingly effervescent wine is filled with vibrant red and stone fruit flavors, floral perfume tones, and spice notes and is attractively priced at $14.99.  

Learn More at @WinesOfBrasil


Overall, I believe Brazilian wines have a good bit to offer. Especially the diversity that can be found at and around the $20 sweet spot (US market). I can see Brazil’s food-friendly Merlot and sparkling wines, as well as a crowd-pleaser like Moscato, having good market appeal here. One thing I found interesting during our tasting and discussion is the lack of local support for Brazilian wines. This actually may have little to do with wine quality coming out of Brazil and more to do with taxation. Hopefully this is in the process of changing, but the Brazilian government taxes wine sales as high as 50% in their own country. This alone is probably enough for locals to look elsewhere to satisfy their wine needs. This type of taxation hinders, if not halts, the development of a local wine culture where local cuisine and local wines are routinely enjoyed in restaurants or on the dinner table at home. Apparently, there's some quality juice being produced in Brazil and for those who are outside the area I recommend following @WinesOfBrasil to learn more about the region and their wines. Good News: The tax does not apply to exports so you should be able to find Brazilian wines here in the US at reasonable price points. Cheers!



Read what other 2013 Snooth PVA Bloggers are saying about the Brazilian Wines Master Class:

Snooth writes "The Wines of Brazil"

Wine Julia writes "#SnoothPVA: Wines of Brazil"


Benito's Wine Reviews writes "Snooth PVA: Wines of Brasil"



Backyard Feathered Friend: The American Goldfinch


Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: This trip was provided by Snooth. Thoughts are my own.

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