Not all that sparkles is gold, but 2 out of 5 isn’t bad: sparkling wine takes off in Brazil

The China Post - - ARTS & LEISURE -

Two in five bot­tles of wine made in Brazil are sparkling. Sev­eral global com­pa­nies in­vested in sparkling wine pro­duc­tion from the 1970s and Brazil sub­se­quently pro­duces some in­trigu­ing fizz, as a re­cent tast­ing in Lon­don re­vealed.

Some an­a­lysts pre­dict Brazil will be­come the world’s fifth-largest econ­omy by 2030, and Wines of Brasil are work­ing hard to pro­mote the in­dus­try.

Many winer­ies have Ital­ian ori­gins be­cause of the large num­ber of im­mi­grants. The Serra Gaucha re­gion in the south near the bor­der with Uruguay is the high­est, with some vine­yards planted at 1,400 me­ters. It has been nick­named “Lit­tle Italy” be­cause of the Ital­ian in­flu­ence. All of the fizz men­tioned here come from Serra Gaucha. The first three are made in the tra­di­tional method that orig­i­nated in Cham­pagne.

The Mi­olo en­try- level Cu­vee Tra­di­tion Brut — a 50:50 blend of chardon­nay and pinot noir — is a nice in­tro­duc­tion to the coun­try’s fizz. This non-vin­tage wine is soft and round with good acid­ity and a pleas­ant dry­ness. Mi­olo is a ma­jor player with about 40 per­cent of the coun­try’s wine mar­ket.

The Casa Val­duga Arte Brut is more so­phis­ti­cated, made of 60 per­cent Chardon­nay with the rest Pinot Noir. It has sub­tle bready aro­mas from a year on lees. It builds beau­ti­fully in the mouth and the fla­vors linger for a long time. This is as good as an av­er­age cham­pagne yet much cheaper, which makes it good value for money.

The Piz­zato Brut Rose is a high­end wine with a high price tag. The 85 per­cent of Pinot Noir pro­vides sub­tle notes of straw­ber­ries and zingy acids. The rest is Chardon­nay. It has a kiss of sweet­ness but over­all is well bal­anced with an el­e­gant mouth-feel. It has that touch of author­ity that makes it ideal for a cel­e­bra­tion. It is priced at about the same level as a midrange cham­pagne.

The next three Moscato-based sparklers owe much to their Ital­ian her­itage. Th­ese are pleas­ant wines that do not pre­tend to be any­thing but fun. All have masses of ripe fruit plus zingy acid. The low al­co­hol, at 7.5 per­cent, means they can be drunk at lunch dur­ing sum­mer, and are ideal for peo­ple with a sweet tooth. All should be served chilled.

The Sal­ton non- vin­tage is friendly and ap­proach­able. The Monte Paschoal non-vin­tage would be ideal for those who seek a nice way to fin­ish a meal. Its bouncy acid­ity makes it a nice al­ter­na­tive to dessert. The Aurora Rose non­vin­tage is a 50:50 blend of Moscato Ham­burgo and Moscato Bianco. Its color hints of rose pe­tals in the sun, and its zingy sweet­ness sug­gests it would make an ap­peal­ing end to a meal. A touch of tan­nin pro­vides struc­ture and bal­ance. All are well-priced.

Brazil is a for­mer Por­tuguese colony — Por­tu­gal in­tro­duced vines to Brazil in 1532 — so we now con­sider some qual­ity wines en­coun­tered in Por­tu­gal.

An­to­nio Sara­m­ago started as a wine­maker at age 14 at the old­est ta­ble wine com­pany in Por­tu­gal, Fonseca. He stayed for more than 40 years be­fore start­ing his own la­bel in 2002 with his son An­to­nio ju­nior.

Their fo­cus is the Caste­lao grape. Por­tu­gal is seek­ing a grape va­ri­ety the world’s wine con­sumers can as­so­ciate with its ta­ble wines. The coun­try is fa­mous for port but wants to es­tab­lish more of an iden­tity for its bot­tled ta­ble wines. Ar­gentina has iden­ti­fied Mal­bec as a grape peo­ple can link with the coun­try and makes su­perb mal­becbased reds. Uruguay has done some­thing sim­i­lar with Tan­nat.

Fa­ther and son showed off their wines at the sec­ond an­nual Iberico wine fes­ti­val in the town of Se­tubal, near the cap­i­tal Lis­bon. An­to­nio ju­nior trans­lated be­cause his fa­ther does not speak much English. Both ex­plained that the Caste­lao grape was de­mand­ing be­cause of its high acid­ity and ten­dency to­wards green tan­nins.

An­to­nio ju­nior stud­ied wine­mak­ing in Lis­bon and be­lieves young Caste­lao should be paired with fatty cheese and baked fish be­cause th­ese bal­ance the acid­ity.

An­to­nio se­nior be­lieves Caste­lao has great aging po­ten­tial. He sees par­al­lels with pinot noir, and the way that acid­ity in both th­ese va­ri­eties al­lows a wine to ma­ture for decades. But while pinot tends to the pale end of the red spec­trum, Caste­lao’s in­tense color some­times verges on inky black­ness.

Like pinot, Caste­lao is ver­sa­tile. Be­cause of its acid­ity the Sara­m­ago duo be­lieve Caste­lao could make an ex­cel­lent sparkling wine, and plan to in­tro­duce a dry style next year. Mean­while they show­cased a range of ex­cel­lent reds. Their 2012 Sara­m­ago, 100 per­cent Caste­lao, has grippy tan­nins and ripe fruit. This wine needs time to demon­strate its splen­dor.

The 2010 Sara­m­ago Reserva is also made only with Caste­lao and spent a year in new oak (80 per­cent French with the rest Amer­i­can). It has loads of cof­fee aro­mas mixed with black fruit and min­eral fresh­ness. The tan­nins are al­most chewy. This is a lovely wine that will be mem­o­rable in a decade.

In 2009 they re­leased the Cin­quenta to mark An­to­nio se­nior’s 50 years as a wine­maker. It is 60 per­cent Caste­lao with the bal­ance Touriga Na­cional, Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon and Ali­cante Bouschet, and is rich and per­fumed with pro­found length.

The duo make a range of su­perb Mus­cat de Se­tubal for­ti­fied wines (the 2007 and 1993 were the most mem­o­rable). The la­bel of the 1993 dis­plays the ini­tials JMS in large type, an homage to An­to­nio se­nior’s fa­ther. In the mouth it is an ex­plo­sion of nuts, or­ange blos­som, tof­fee and mar­malade with enough acid­ity to en­sure it will last an­other three decades. It is su­perb alone, but per­fect with grilled al­monds. Stephen Quinn writes about wine for a va­ri­ety of pub­li­ca­tions in the re­gion. From 1975 he was a jour­nal­ist for two decades with the Bangkok Post; BBC-TV, The Guardian, ITN, the UK Press As­so­ci­a­tion; TVNZ; the Mid­dle East Broad­cast­ing Cen­ter in Dubai and a range of re­gional news­pa­pers in Australia. Dr. Quinn be­came a jour­nal­ism ed­u­ca­tor in 1996, but re­turned to jour­nal­ism full time in 2011. He is based in Hong Kong and is the au­thor of 17 books.

AP

Youssef, 16 months, right, and his sis­ter Yara, 5, pose for pic­ture as they sit on stairs un­der a bridge as their mother sells tis­sues, in Cairo, Egypt on Satur­day, June 6.

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