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Brazil is South America's Latest Rising Star Wine Producer

south america wine

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From a country that exports the most star soccer players and sets the bar for lavish Carnival celebrations the world over, it's easy to overlook Brazil as a major wine producer.

Now the fifth largest in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the fastest growing markets in the world, Brazil is surprisingly not a New World producer like New Zealand or Chile. It was Father Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz, a Jesuit missionary assisted by the native Guarani community, who successfully cultivated vines in Rio Grande do Sul in 1626. The country's first guided tasting, a bit later in 1640, was recorded in first Proceedings of the Chamber of São Paulo establishing basic standards of quality.

 south america wine
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Local wine making continued over the ensuing centuries, but quality really improved starting in 1875 with the arrival of Italian immigrants. It wasn't until 1928 that the Sindicato do Vinho was established to promote consistent quality standards. Within 10 years, 26 vineyard cooperatives were established, some of which are still in existence today, enabling small producers to competitively offer their unique micro terrior vintages.

Today, encompassing nearly 2,500 miles along Brazil’s eastern border, six main wine regions contain nearly 24,800 acres of 150 well established wineries as well as 1,100 small farm wineries each averaging five vineyard acres.

 south america wine
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The following wines, all from the Serra Gaucha, Brazil's leading region representing 85 percent of the entire country's production, benefit from basaltic soil, humid climate and mild nights. Each wine has a distinctive personality in the bottle accompanied by labeling that's notably bright and lively reflecting the culture's playful vibe rather than a revered adherence to tradition.

 south america wine
Photo Credit: Steve Mirsky

Cave Geisse Blanc de Blanc 2015

Produced by Familia Geisse, This 100 percent Chardonnay from Pinto Bandeira has a light yellow-green hue in the glass. Elegant and complex on the nose, it showcases yeasty aromas of white flowers and citrus fruits like pineapple and lemon. A chalky minerality with a lively effervescence tempers this brut's fruitiness. It has a rich, velvety, and pungent mouthfeel with a refreshing palate cleansing finish.

 south america wine
Photo Credit: Steve Mirsky

Lidio Carraro Da'divas Chardonnay 2014

Unoaked, the Lidio Carraro Da'divas Chardonnay 2014 exudes well-balanced minerality with an effervescent zingy citrus and hints of punch-like fruit on the nose. A deep, sophisticated range of flavors blossom from the unrestrained grapes into exceptional complexity combined with even minerality accentuates the attributes of many cheeses. Sharp yet balanced acidity sets the stage for a sparkling spicy personality.

 south america wine
Photo Credit: Steve Mirsky

Macaw Tannat 2015

Located in the mountainous Vale Trentino sub-region at an altitude of 2,287 feet, grapes are manually selected and fermented for this Macaw Tannat using cultured yeast for seven days in stainless steel vats. A portion is then matured in 100 percent new Hungarian oak. This 100 percent Tannat is violet with hints of ruby. Subtle aromas of chocolate and vanilla lead the palate with an intense blackberry flavor buttressed by firm tannins. A bright, unencumbered nose with straightforward fruit features black raspberry with a warm, light tropical twist. On the palate, a richer black currant unfolds with a rugged, yet sweet-tinged fruitiness similar to a Lambrusco although with not as biting of a finish.

 south america wine
Photo Credit: Steve Mirsky

Miolo Cuvee Guiseppe Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2013

The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes used in this blend were selected from the best parcels of the Miolo family vineyards in Vale dos Vinhedos grown in rocky-clay soil. Hand-picked, de-stemmed, selected and transferred to the fermentation tanks, maceration occurs in stainless steel tanks with a simultaneous alcoholic fermentation. Homogenized with skins six times a day for a slow selective extraction of color and tannins, the wine is then matured in new French oak for one year before blending and bottling.

An intense ruby red hue with a high aromatic intensity, you get a pronounced jaminess on the nose with lively fruit poking through even after being oak aged. Definitive bramble berry with oaky sweetness lingers long on the palate. A delicate tannic structure buttressed by a steady minerality enlivens everything from hamburgers to Thai dishes and of course churrasco, Brazil's iconic ember-grilled steak.

Steve Mirsky

I firmly believe that distinctive cuisine and life-changing travel experiences are best savored by those driven by curiosity rather than solely on the recommendations of wine connoisseurs, gourmands, and jet setters. Classic hotels, signature boutique properties, and epic dining experiences provide some of the best opportunities for an authentic introduction to new cultures and cuisine. I shar...(Read More)

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