New York, NY –
On October 11th, I attended the Wines of Brazil event at the Astor Center on Lafayette Street. It was a quiet and simple affair featuring twelve small tables offering various Brazilian wines. The event focused on the virtues of the Brazilian climate, with brand ambassadors explaining that despite Argentinian and South African wine’s popularity over Brazilian varieties, Brazilians share the same latitude and can produce wines of similar quality, with the unique influence of their terroir.
I started with the largest winery in Brazil, Aurora, which produces 38 million liters of wine per year, or nearly 30% of the wine produced in Brazil. Their Aurora line is not actually sold in the US yet—it’s release date is in 2013. For now they sell a pair of Moscatos under the Copacabana line, though still from the Aurora winery. The Auroras were nice, I tried an unoaked bittersweet Chardonnay that was understated but not muted and a Pinot Noir that was light-bodied and a long finish. I found both the Rose and the White Moscato of the Copacabana line to be very rich in sweetness.
I went on to Casa Valduga, a winery formed in 1875 by an Italian family which exports to eighteen countries. My first wine was the Naturelle Rosa which had a sweet finish but a strange, sour nose. I then tried the Cabernet Sauvignon, which was the richest ruby color I had seen out of a Brazilian red to this point. It had a simple oak nose with some dark fruits.
Before heading to the next tasting, I nibbled on a flaky puff pastry filled with tender short rib dipped in a roasted red pepper cream sauce, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Soon afterwards, I moved on to Cave Geisse and tried the only selection at the table, the Terroir Rose Brut, which turned out to be one of my favorite wines at the event. The sparkling rose wine of the Geisse selection was delicate but bold. The nose was powerful and bright— with notes of strawberry preserves and crisp red fruits. It was warm in the chest but not at all harsh.
The next table was the Don Geurino Winery, established in 2000, and I began with an unoaked young white. It had a balanced, long finish, nice body and was my favorite Chardonnay of the afternoon. The Moscato that Don Geurino offered had a tremendous nose of tropical fruits and a not-too-sweet dry finish, a definite improvement on the Copacabana I had tried earlier.
My final winery of the afternoon was Lidio Carraro and it was the most impressive. The host told me that, unlike many Brazilian exports to the US, that attempt to cater to US tastes, Lidio Carraro is known for wines which exemplify and cherish the terroir of the region, rather than try to mask it. The unoaked Chardonnay was thin and lacking body but I persisted in trying more of the line. The Rose had only just arrived and was not yet available in the US. It was dark and easy drinking with a long, clean and tart finish. The Tannat, which I finished with, was remarkable. There was the oft-made comment, among the guests, that Brazil had nice white and sparkling offerings but lacked reds. I can only assume they had not reached the Carraro’s Tannat. Black and stone fruits dominate the nose and are at the forefront on the palate, before harsh alcohol flashes for an instant, followed by a massive smoky coffee and licorice finish. For me, Wines of Brazil did as it intended, and opened my eyes to the virtues and the legitimacy of Brazilian wine.