As an importer of premium Brazilian wine based in East Anglia we always welcome the opportunity to talk business with other local companies, and to learn from them. Our MD Nicholas Corfe was recently invited by Rachel Manning of Suffolk-based iMarketing Ltd to introduce (‘virtually’) Go Brazil Wines and discuss its origins, the history and style of wines produced in Brazil, and what’s next for the business..
Watch the interview on YouTube here: GoBrazilWines or see foot of this page. The full transcript follows:
Hi, I’m Rachel Manning from iMarketing Ltd and, as part of a series of interviews with local businesses, today I’ve got the pleasure of sitting down with Nic Corfe from Go Brazil Wines.
Hello Nic, how’re you doing?
Hi Rachel, good afternoon, I’m very well! Thank you for the invitation, it’s lovely to see you.
It’s lovely to see you too. I was wondering if you could tell me a little about Go Brazil Wines – how you started and how things are going now?
Certainly. The story started back in 2010 when I set up the company jointly with a Brazilian chap who was based out of Dublin and things really kicked off from there. We’ve always worked exclusively with Brazilian wines and a little bit of Cachaça, which is a Brazilian spirit, and I’m pleased to say that, in the UK, we are still the only specialist importer of Brazilian wine.
And you sell your wines to both the public and trade customers?
Absolutely. Over lockdown we’ve done good business online, attracting new consumers to the category – perhaps people who didn’t even know Brazilian wine even existed and we’ve seen this all over the country, a good level of enquiries. Of course, we also do trade. That, as you know, has been locked down, largely. There are signs in the last month or so that it is coming back, we’ve obviously got the easing of restrictions. So yes, we supply restaurants, hotels and so on. We also do event-based business as well.
Fantastic. So, we’re hopefully coming into the summer (weather-wise!) at some point soon – are your wines good for barbeques? Are they nice wines to drink with summer food?
Absolutely, I would hope so! We’ve got a nice selection; we cover all the range of categories in the sense of red, white, rose, sparkling, so all those bases are covered. Certainly, for barbeques & outdoor dining, whatever it might be, we have a good selection. Something like a malbec rosé sparkling, one of our best sellers for the summer, that always goes down very well. We’ve got a selection of dry, crisp white wines as well for when it does warm up, from various grapes like sauvignon blanc, viognier and chardonnay for example. And then the reds, those of us who like to have a sausage or whatever it is meat-wise on the barbeque, certainly the heavier wines, the cabernet sauvignons, the tannat grape which perhaps is not so well known, we can recommend these wines, certainly.
So, how does Brazilian wine differ from other South American wines? It’s not something we often see in our supermarkets.
We don’t, sadly, and there are very good reasons for that, not least because Brazil doesn’t actually produce an awful lot of wine and, what it does produce, a lot of it stays in Brazil. I think the way to answer that is perhaps to go back to the history, which involves a lot of Italian immigration, in fact. The way I like to describe it is that Brazilian wine has one foot in the Old World and one foot in the New World, so the wines aren’t quite as full and fruity as you might expect from the Southern Hemisphere – they are a bit more complex, a little bit more restrained on the fruit, but then again, they use some, particularly for the reds, oak barrels and that adds some complexity. The wines are, I would say, well balanced and particularly good for trying with food general.
Who would these wines appeal too, then? A more contemporary market, or perhaps a mix of traditional & contemporary?
They have a wide appeal, our customer-base ranges from teens through to people in their 80’s, judging by the events that we run. So, there’s no typical customer, but I think the key thing that attracts people is the fact that we are a little bit different. As you say, the wines aren’t widely available and it’s just a question of being more adventurous and going into the discussion with an open mind, being interested in wine generally, liking to try things which are different and being willing to experiment up to a point.
So Nic, tell me a bit about Brazil & where the wine is made.
Well, that’s an interesting one! Brazil is certainly recognised as a tropical country, but I’m pleased to say that the main wine growing areas are not right in the middle of the tropics, they’re more in the sub-tropical regions in areas such as Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina in the south of Brazil, bordering both Argentina & Uruguay are where about 85-90% of Brazilian wine originates. So that’s the key region, one of the 26 states in Brazil called the Rio Grande do Sul. There are also other areas; there’s an area in the north east where they also have grapes and there are a few up and coming areas in between. The state of São Paulo we’ve seen in recent years also becoming, steadily, a wine producing area. However, the south of Brazil is definitely still the key area.
What’s the climate like down there?
As I say, technically sub-tropical. They do have four seasons, I have to say I think they do merge somewhat, but it’s not as blisteringly hot as people assume. Perhaps the key thing to point out is the altitude; where most of the vineyards are located is around a town called Bento Gonçalves, the actual altitude is around 6-700 metres, around 2000 feet! So, in winter there it’s cold; fog and frost are quite common. It is hot in summer, but the summer is also relatively short, so the growing season is perhaps shorter than you would imagine.
And does that have an influence on the wine that’s produced?
It does, in that if you have a poor summer then the danger is that the red wines don’t have long enough to ripe. It’s less of an issue for the white wines, but for the red wines yes, if it’s a poor summer with not enough sun and/or too much rain, then the danger is that the grapes don’t ripen to the extent that is required and that can damage the harvest.
So, how would you encourage people to try your wines? Could they take a wine they like now and try the Brazilian equivalent?
What I can suggest is to look at our website (www.gobrazilwines.com), there are mixed cases available if you want to try a number of different wines. Our minimum online order is only four bottles anyway, so there’s plenty of scope for experimentation there. That’s probably the best place to start, I would suggest. We also have Wines of the Month and Wines of the Week, as well as lots of different offers, so you needn’t be spending a lot of money.
Tell me about your current offers!
Well, let me just quickly think! We have a Wine of the Week, a reduced-price chardonnay, unoaked and quite a neutral style, very good for seafood, fish, salads & other cold plates.
Perfect for this time of year, then?
Yeah! It’s raining today, but when it warms up absolutely. We’ve also got a very nice bubbly, a traditional method, so we can’t call it champagne and it’s obviously not champagne; it’s a sparkling wine made in the traditional method. That’s branded Amadeu, a brut style – a dry-ish style of fizz which we thoroughly recommend, it’s currently on offer with a couple of pounds off. That’s a wine we might typically serve at the Brazilian embassy, when they’re up and running, for their official functions so it comes well-recommended.
We also have a cabernet sauvignon on offer, as we mentioned barbecues earlier it’s ideal for when you have a steak on the barbie or even something like a curry or chilli-based foods.
You also have a monthly newsletter, right? You let people know about the Wines of the Month, as well as events you’re potentially going to be featuring at. I know that, obviously with lockdown you’ve been unable to go out and see people, but usually you do quite a few events in the year.
We do indeed. In a typical year we’re doing probably one or two, on average, per-week during the normal season. Most of those, of course, are face-to-face, including things like the BBC Good Food Show up at the NEC in Birmingham, that normally takes place twice a year and I think the next one is going to be at the end of November, but hopefully we’ll be going to London, Edinburgh, Oxford, Cheltenham and more.
You also featured at a local event, at Snape Maltings here in Suffolk a few years ago, didn’t you?
Yes, that’s right. Obviously, we’re here in Suffolk and it doesn’t have these big venues, of course, but you’re right, we’ve been up to Snape on two or three occasions previously. I don’t think there’s anything planned as of right now, but obviously we’re keen to do events locally. We’ve certainly been invited to present at a number of local Suffolk wine clubs and that’s good to know that we have quite a few of those clubs throughout the county, as well as hundreds, if not thousands, throughout the UK run by private individuals, universities, youth and U3A groups – all sorts.
So, you do a lot of tastings with wine clubs and individual gatherings at homes?
Yes, we’re fortunate enough to be invited to present the wines, it could be a selection of anything from 6-10 wines in a typical evening. It could be at a village hall, it could be someone’s private house, a local library, a hotel, the room of a pub – all sorts. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have a little buffet or a meal alongside, which makes it a very social event so it’s not just about the wine. These events are very much get-togethers with local people meeting to taste and hopefully enjoy the wines.
That sounds really good. I think people need a bit more socialisation now after a long time of being stuck in the house!
Absolutely, I think we all do, frankly! I’m desperate to get out there, meet customers and meet new people – that’s really what we do, and we know that, when we do present the wines, they are very, very well received. So yeah, I’m itching to get back to some sort of normality.
So, if someone wanted to book a wine tasting with you, or a private wine party at their home, or they wanted you to come and present your wines at their local wine club, how would they go about that?
I think the best thing is to contact me directly through the website or by phone, just to discuss first of all what your event might entail and what sort of wines you are interested in seeing, if there are any particular requirements. It doesn’t really matter where you are in the UK, as I mentioned we go literally everywhere from the north of Scotland down to Wales, the south coast of England and here locally in East Anglia as well. So, there’s plenty of scope for moving around and it’s just a question of having a discussion, really, and seeing if we can find an agreement.
Fantastic. If there anything else you would like to say about your wines, just to wrap up? I think a few key points I’ve picked up from this interview are that people should subscribe to your newsletter to keep updated as to what events you might be at, so they can come and sample your wines and also have a fun day out, also you have lots of special offers which are updated every month on your website, so it’s worth either getting the newsletter or checking your website to keep in touch with those offers. Finally, that Brazilian wine is something a little bit special that adds a bit of glamour to your dining table when you have a party or cheers up a boring weekend if you’re staying at home.
So that’s what I’ve really picked up from this interview, is there anything you would like to add or emphasise?
I’d just like to reinforce the point that the people who are going to be interested in what we’re doing are wine lovers, people who are interested in wine not because they’re in any way snobbish or connoisseurs, on the contrary they just want to try different things. Clearly, they may not like everything they try, but I think the first step is to make that move – have a look on the website and do sign up for the newsletter. As you say, there’s plenty of offers available; you don’t have to make a big commitment to get started. Try different things, see how you get on and, if you’re keen, by all means come and meet us in person or arrange a tasting. It needn’t be a big affair but arrange a tasting with me and we can go into more detail, if that’s what you want to do.
Secondly, we’re constantly updating the portfolio. It’s been difficult over the last 12 months, for reasons we all know, but just be aware that we’re updating things. I’m always looking for new wines – I’m just going to mention Cabernet Franc which is coming hopefully in the autumn, I think that’s a very exciting addition to the range. We are also looking to add at least one new sparkling wine and at least one new white wine featuring a couple of grape varieties which we don’t have currently. I think you just have to watch this space, really. I would urge anyone just to have a look at the website, get a feel for what we do and if you’ve got any questions – please get in touch!
Thanks, Nic. It’s been great to speak to you today, I wish you lots of luck with your coming events!
Many thanks to you too!
iMarketing are a digital marketing company in Suffolk, providing a comprehensive range of fully-integrated digital marketing services, including search engine optimisation (SEO), website development, social media, PR and pay-per-click advertising campaigns.