In an article entitled ‘Brazil steps up’, published in March 2020 on his wine-pages website, we were delighted to read wine critic Tom Cannavan’s comments on six of our most recently launched Brazilian wines.
Tom references the importance of Brazilian wine-making’s largely Italian heritage as well as the perhaps unexpected climatic conditions of the country’s southerly vineyards. Whilst Brazil is certainly considered to be a tropical country, the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina – those closest to both Argentina and Uruguay – enjoy relative cool temperatures and, critically, much higher altitudes than most other regions. It is no coincidence that around 85% of Brazil’s vineyards are to be found here.
There are exceptions, however, among which Tom has highlighted our Guaspari Vale da Pedra Tinto 2017, a 100% varietal Syrah, which originates in the highlands of the more northerly São Paulo state at around 23° latitude. This is a very fine example, perhaps reminiscent of the Northern Rhône, showing violet, thyme and lightly-spiced notes together with a lovely savoury concentration of black fruits, well judged acidity and a long, lingering finish. So much so that it was one of his ‘Wines of the Week’ (w/c 16/03/20).
In this clip you can listen to Tom’s comments and learn how, and why, the grapes in the Guaspari vineyard are not harvested until mid-winter: https://youtu.be/a6Z56qAHaUs
His second ‘Wine of the Week’ is the Pizzato PP Semillon 2018, which we must confess is a favourite too with us at Go Brazil! Very unusually, this white is aged in French barrels made of both oak and acacia wood – the latter giving the wine a pleasant, gently floral fragrance. A lowish alcohol level (12% Abv.) allows a whole cornucopia of intriguing aromas and flavours to show, including hints of toast, lemon, citrus, herbs, peaches, melon, vanilla, spice and creaminess..to mention a few. As Tom concludes, ‘a delightful wine’!
Two more of Pizzato’s wines were featured in Tom’s article: their ‘Vertigo Nature’ 2016, a rarely seen example of an un-degorged Traditional Method sparkler, and also the very different Alicante Bouschet 2016. The former will appeal to fans of all ‘natural’ wines: this is a hazy, completely dry fizz with the pronounced citric and wheat aromas you might more commonly expect in a continental ‘Weissbier’!
Alicante Bouschet, although of French origin, is a red variety found nowadays mainly in central and southern Portugal and is frequently used to blend: this is because it is one of those rare ‘teinturier’ grapes, whose inner flesh is actually red, so adding a real depth of colour to its wines. This very same example was selected by Jancis Robinson in October 2019 for the launch party of the latest edition of her ‘World Wine Atlas’, in conjunction with Hugh Johnson. Read Tom’s comments here:
The final two wines reviewed were from the same winery, Campos de Cima, and as above are very different from one another. Uniquely among Go Brazil’s suppliers, Campos de Cima is located in the extreme southwest of Brazil, in the border town of Itaqui that neighbours Argentina. The hinterland is a vast, remote and sparsely populated area of undulating hills, ‘Campanha Gaúcha’, best known for its cattle, sheep – and rice! The lower altitude (around 150m) and longer days than those further north mean that the grapes generally ripen more quickly, resulting in wines that are more ‘fruit forward’. This is certainly the case for their Viognier and Assinatura red, both from the 2018 vintage.
The Viognier was picked early to retain freshness and acidity, and to avoid producing an overly alcoholic wine (it is a modest 12.5% Abv.). A delicate jasmine note gives way to a palate laden with ripe stonefruit, which at the same time is pleasantly textured and a little ‘waxy’, as is typical of the variety. Read more here: Viognier
The Assinatura (‘signature’) red is only produced in the very best vintages, most recently in 2014. The blend for the 2018 has however changed and in this vintage comprises 80% Shiraz, 10% Tempranillo and 10% Tannat. A melange of spice, tobacco and dark mature fruits is the result, together with what Tom describes as a ‘meaty, charcuterie’ quality. Having enjoyed this wine with barbecued lamb and beef, in situ at the winery, we know what he means – and it was a great combination! We would also agree that the Assinatura has plenty of ageing potential.
In summary, an eclectic but high quality line-up of wines which we would encourage you to try. Our thanks go to Tom Cannavan for taking the time to review them.
Photo Credit: Tom Cannavan