Most people associate Brazil with snow-white, fine sand beaches, tropical scenery, exotic foods, maybe cachaca (sugarcane based distillate), but never with wine.
Yet Brazil is the third largest wine producing country in South America after Argentina and Chile. The country’s 200 wineries produce enough to cover the needs of the 120 million population, who average about two litres per annum. Brazilians prefer beer and liquor over wine, but as growing segment of the population appreciates wine as their favourite alcoholic beverage mainly in restaurants and also at dinner.
The wine was introduced as early as 1532 by the Portuguese in the Sao Paulo state, and by Jesuit missionaries in Rio Grande do Sul in 1626. Later, vineyards fell victim to neglect, and only after 1970’ started to revive again.
Most of the vineyards are located in the state of Bahia (8 degrees south of the Equator); Rio Grande do Sul (31 S) around Serra Gaucha at 700 metres of altitude, and Baje.
Bahia`s vineyards in the Sao Francisco Valley near Recife survive desert-like climate and must be irrigated, but yield ripe, luscious grapes, suitable for dry wines.
The vineyards in Rio Grande do Sul are exposed to precipitation towards the end of the growing season, hence grapes tend to be high in acidity, more suitable for sparkling wines that require carefully calibrated dosage to be palatable.
The climate of this huge country bordering 10 others varies greatly from north to south.
The first successful grape variety planted was Isabella, a North American hybrid that tolerates humidity, but never produces quality wine as western palates define it.
Today, wineries process to the extent possible, trebbiano, chardonnay, muscats, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, petit syrah, gamay, touriga nacional, pinot noir, alfrocheiro, and tinta roriz a.k.a tempranillo in Spain.
Modern wineries and those with forward looking managements employ European wine consultants to produce wines of export quality.
Vineyard management was improved through the introduction of suitable canopy design and management, pruning, and irrigation when necessary. Yields have been reduced to obtain better quality fruit.
Recently I had an opportunity to taste a range of wines by Miolo, established in 1897 by Giacomo Miolo, an Italian immigrant from Genoa. Today, the winery owns and operates 600 hectares of vineyards in the states Rio Grande do Sul and Bahia.
Miolo Selection (a blend of chardonnay, riesling italico, and sauvignon blanc) offered apple and pear aromas, had an appealing colour, balanced taste and fine texture.
Terranova, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, 2005, had a vibrant colour, deep flavour, and good grip, with a long aftertaste. Cellaring for two to three years recommended.
Lot 43, 1999, a Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot was soft, velvety with a broad taste of ripe fruit, supported with oak flavours. A very pleasant wine to consume now with all types of meat dishes.
What is most pleasant with Miolo wines is the price. The export manager informed me that Miolo exports 1000 cases to the U S A monthly.
In Ontario Miolo wines must be imported privately through an agency (firstname.lastname@example.org) or email@example.com.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.