New World Wines: Brazil Is Up and Coming

I have decided to start writing once a week about wines from another country, meaning not from Italy. This will help me not only with my palate but also with my ongoing wine study. This week, I’m writing a bit about Brazil.

Brazil seems to have entered my life recently on a rather important scale. A dear friend from Brazil has just helped me with an important personal project. It seems that everyone I know speaks Portugese, workss with Brazil and/or vacations there.

Brazil is not just on my mind but on everyones’ thanks to its strong economy and recent election of a female President. Just last week, Brazil apparently became the world’s fifth largest economy, surpassing both Britain and France, according to their finance mInister Guido Mantega.

My graduate school also just held an alumni party at a wonderful restaurant in New York called Emporium Brasil where I discovered more delicacies from that land.

We had a Samba band, dancers and much cachaca and a wonderful fruit drink made with the Acai berry called Sambazon, an exciting and dynamic company doing great things with organic juices from the Acai berry and supporting local development at the same time.

Brazil’s growth is amazing and the population is already over 200 million people. Brazil was settled by many immigrants from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Many Africans were brought as slaves to Brazil and there were and are indigenous tribes.

At a seminar on Sunday February 27 at the New York Wine Expo, I learned even more about Brazilian wines and their origins. As one might imagine, immigrants had a big role in the product of wine in Brazil, especially the Italians.

Brazil is the fifth largest wine producer in the southern hemisphere. With a production of 3.3 million hectoliters this year, Brazil is only second to Argentina (14.6 million hectoliters), Australia (12.3 million), South Africa (10.2 million) and Chile (8.6 million) in terms of new world wine countries.

Brazil has nine main wine regions but Serra Gaucha is apparently the one with the most wineries, the heart of wine tourism and is completely Italian.

Brazil has no indigenous grape varieties and thus far has concentrated on the international ones such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir. They also grow Riesling, Glera, Moscato, Malvasia, Cabernet Franc, Tannat, Ancellota, Egiodola, Touriga Nacional, and Teroldego. The have one DO of Denomination of origin area in the works, called Valle dos Vinhedos, which should be finalized in April 2011.

During the seminar, we discussed how at the moment Brazilians drink only two liters of wine per capita compared with 11 liters of beer and 31 liters of Cachaca. That means there is a lot of room for growth in the wine sales. Some 15,000 families are involved in the industry.

Generally, the wineries are small holdings. I tasted wines from all five producers who were showing their products at the expo. I liked them as a whole and especially those from Casa Valduga and Lidio Carraro. I also tasted a sparkling wine from Vinciola Aurora which was really lovely, a Pinot Noir based sparkler.

I didn’t try any wines from Miolo because I know them relatively well as their sparkler is sold throughout New York City.

In general, the wines are young, fresh and ready to drink. What I also liked was that they were not so high in alcohol and nuanced in their use of wood.

I look very forward to trying more of these wines at their nice and affordable prices. I also look forward to learning Portuguese, dancing the Samba and going to Brazil, one of the countries in South America that I haven’t visited. I’m still working on my Spanish and my tango but my interest in Portuguese and samba has been awakened as well.

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