Brazil, land of an inchoate wine miracle

A few years ago the wine world didn’t know about Brazilian wines. Although emigrés from Italy, France, and Germany have created a viticulture over a century old, local wines have been of rather poor quality.

photo: archiv

Most Brazilian vineyards (about 70,000 hectares) are planted with high-yield American hybrids that provide rich crops of table grapes and outstanding amounts of juices and extracts. But wines made from them are practically undrinkable for Europeans. In the late 1990s Brazilians began planting tried-and-true varietals suitable for the preparation of first-rate wines. At the same time they made great investments in the processing industry. Today twenty Brazilian wineries each produce over two million liters of wine annually. The largest is the Aurora cooperative, which turns out 22.5 million liters a year. But this far from satiates ever-growing domestic demand, so over 70% of all still and sparkling wines are imported. Last year the first Brazilian appellation, one of the conditions for successful exports, was granted in Vale do Vinhedos, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (the provenance of the wines included in this month’s Wine Guide.)
The greatest concentration of vineyards is in Rio Grande do Sul, the nation’s smallest state in southernmost Brazil, bordering Uraguay. Over half of Brazil’s vineyards are there, and thanks to the favorable climate and processing industry investments, so are the finest wines. In second place, to the north, is Sao Paulo, with vineyards to a lesser degree in the states of Santa Catarina, Paraná, Minas Gerais, Bahia, and Pernambuco. They’re all in the southern hemisphere, so the further north, the warmer. They are currently tasting young wines of the 2005 vintage.
Many young viniculture and viticulture experts with international experience are already working in the Brazilian wine industry. For example, 22-year-old oenologist Monica Rossete successfully runs all the vineyards of the Lídio Carraro family winery in Vale do Vinhedos. However, her knowledge and expertise could be the envy of any Moravian wine veteran. You’ll find their high-quality, expensive wines in the best Brazilian restaurants and duty-free airport shops.

The author is the deputy editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine.


  Photo: Věroslav Sixt

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Available at: Blomus, Karlínské nám. 9, Praha 8


Upcoming tastings

After extensive reconstruction, Viniční altán was opened last year in Prague’s Havlíčkovy sady. From April’s offer of tastings we chose:
13. April, 7.00 pm – A jaunt to the Antipodes. Tasting of Jacob’s Creek Australian wines, imported by Jan Becher.
27. April, 7.00 pm – Touring European viticulture. Tasting of selected wines imported by Bacchus, under the tutelage of sommelier Tomáš Blabla.
Free admission, but reservations required: 602 763 818, or e-mail: Go to Viniční altán from either Rybalkova street in Vinohrady or the Otakarova tram stop in Nusle, up through the park.


Espumante blush Estacoes roce 2004
Producer: Casa Valduga
Characteristics: A pleasant Chardonnay and Pinot noir blend with long-lasting, fine bubbles and tones of raspberries and wild strawberries.
Price: 345 Kč

Chardonnay Volpi 2003
Producer: Salton
Characteristics: A full-bodied yet fresh varietal wine with an aroma of citrus, a breath of vanilla, and smoky tones that indicate that at least part of the wine aged in new oak casks. Alfrédo Volpi is a well-known Brazilian painter, and reproductions of his paintings adorn the labels of this line.
Price: 248 Kč

Lote 43, 2002
Producer: Miolo
Characteristics: A successful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Lote 43 (Lot 43) was acquired by the Italian forefather of today’s owners. This is a vintage, dark red wine with a marked aroma of ripe grapes and the flavor of damson plums with residual chocolate tones.
Price: 535 Kč

Talento 2002
Producer: Salton
Characteristics: A limited series of exclusive vintage red wine that was first prepared in 2002. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Tanat. Dark red, an aroma of ripe fruit, with a nice spicy flavor with sweetish, velvety, fine tannins.
Price: 1200 Kč






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