Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking and when she passes, each one she passes goes “ah.”
When she walks, she’s like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gentle that when she passes, each one she passes goes…ah”
The Girl from Ipanema is a classic, written by Antônio Carlos Jobim with Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes and English lyrics by Norman Gimbel. It was first recorded in 1962 but became an international hit in 1964 when it was released as a single featuring Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz.
Even today, when many people think of Brazil, this image — the girl from Ipanema — is what comes to mind. For others, Brazil might bring to mind soccer, or maybe coffee, but likely not wine.
The fact is; however, that the southern part of Brazil is at the same latitude as the best wine-producing regions of Argentina and Chile, and this is one of the best regions of South America for the production of high-end sparkling wines.
Making Wine In Southern Brazil
Winemaking came to southern Brazil in the early 1800s but really took off when Italian immigrants began to arrive in 1875. Today, there are six main wine regions in the country: Serra Gaúcha, Campanha, Serra do Sudeste and Campos de Cima da Serra, in Rio Grande do Sul, Planalto Catarinense, in Santa Catarina, and Vale do São Francisco, in northeastern Brazil. In total about 89,000 hectares are producing table and vineifera varietals, and there are roughly 1,250 wineries, mainly located on small farms (an average of two hectares per family).
Brazil excels in the production of sparkling wines. The wines are generally produced using the Champagne method using standard varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; however, Brazil also produces very fine sparkling Moscatels, as the climate tends to produce grapes with generally higher acidity.
We recently attended a walk around tasting at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York, sponsored by The Consulate General of Brazil and the Brazilian Wine Institute. We were quite impressed, particularly by the scope and quality of the sparkling wine selection.
Tasting Brazil’s Sparkling Wines:
Some of the sparkling wines we tasted included:
Miolo Brut (NV: $20): Miolo began producing grapes in Brazil in 1897, but did not begin bottling wine under the family name until 1994. Miolo brut is light gold in color with a nose showing citrus and tropical notes. There is a nice moose to the wine, with has a citrusy, yeasty palate with some vanilla notes.
The Miolo Brut Rose (NV: $20) is coppery in color, with a yeasty nose. The wine has a good body and balanced acidity. On the palate, the wine was creamy with some strawberry notes.
Cave Amadeu Brut Rose (NV: $25) is a super light salmon color. The nose was extremely fruity with berries and some red currant. On the palate, the wine had a light mousse, and was very fruit forward reflecting the nose – not a lot of yeasty notes on this sparkling wine.
Cave Amadeu Moscatel (NV: $18) the clear wine was extremely sweet as one would expect from this varietal. The nose featured some locker room notes along with the expected raisin. The palate was clean, sweet and featured some rose floral notes.
Casa Valduga has been producing grapes in the heart of Vale dos Vinhedos, or the Valley of Vineyaard since 1875. The winery has been included in the book of the top 1000 places to visit before you die. The winery’s 130 Brut (NV: $32) is seen as the crowning jewel of Brazilian sparkling wines and is actually the official state wine of Brazil. The wine was a clear golden color with a nutty – but also paperish – nose, the wine case clean with light yeast and a citrus tone.
Casa Valduga Brut Rose (NV: $20) as one of our favorites from the tasting. With a light copper color, and a cheesy nose (something that one often finds in hot climate wines), the cuvee itself was clean with good acid. Light yeasty notes up front gave way to citrus undertones.
All in all, the sparkling wines featured at the tasting were quite good, and while there were some with the cheesy notes that one can find in wines from warmer regions, a good sommelier or wine store should be able to recommend some excellent selections.
Consider them for pairing with a range of foods, or for celebratory events.
For more on Brazilian wines including the country’s excellent Tannat red varietals, visit: www.winesof brasil.com
Thanks to John Dunham, our wine & spirits columnist, for this report and winesofbrazil.com for the vineyard photo