Brazilian Wine at Guanabara
SAMBA de Janiero! Do you remember that hit from the late 90′s? To me that encapsulates everything about Brazil. The pumping beats, brassy horns and the ubiquitous whistles that always remind me of Carnival and the carefree, beachy lifestyle of Brazil. Although we’re sipping Caiparinas on the beaches of Brazil, they, little known to us tourists, are also a major wine producer. Number 16 in the world and vines have been in Brazil since the 16th century when they were brought over by the Portuguese.
So, why haven’t we heard of them? Seems the Brazilians, in their languid Brazilian way, are just getting around to telling the world about their wines. I was invited by Niamh from trustedplaces.com to go down to the Brazilian eatery/nightclub, Guanabara the other night to make my way through a sampling of the latest wines coming out of Brazil. It was hosted by the only Brazilian Master of Wine in the world, Dirceu Vianna Junior, a transplanted Brazilian living here in London.
Coe Vintners, the importer, sponsored the evening and Dirceu talked about the wines. They were interesting but I wish he had described the wines a bit more to us. I find winetastings more enjoyable and educational if the presenter gives us his or her interpretation of the wine after we’ve tasted it. Whether I agree or disagree is another matter but it’s nice to have that option.
I have to say my expectations were not high so it wasn’t going to be hard to exceed them. We started off with 2 whites, the Miolo Reserve 07 Chardonnay and the Miolo Fortaleza do Seival Pinot Grigio ’07. To me, the p.grigio tasted like a chard and vice-versa. The p.g. was full bodied with loads of tinned pineapple flavours and aromas, the image of a can of Dole pineapple rings ran round my brain. The chard was rather thin and acidic, mostly lemony characteristics. Both were ok but not anything I’d go out of my way to order especially.
The reds were next. First up was the Miolo Forteleza do Sieval Pinot Noir 07. I found it a bit confected on the nose, we all agreed on boiled sweets, a bit dusty. Some said it was bold and spicy tasting, I thought it was spicy and smoky with hints of chocolate but also vaguely flowery, like drinking perfume, if you know what I mean. It had a short finish and green tannins, it seemed like the wine was not quite ready or balanced. I revisted it later and it had turned into a pongy type of wine, reminded me of cheap S. African reds.
The Miolo Quinta do Seival Castas Portuguesas 07 was made from some of the same varieties used to make port -touriga nacional and tinto roriz. Meaty and savoury with black fruit aromas, on the palate it had a slightly vegetal quality, someone said like was like chewing on grape stems, again with the green tannins, but there was some nice black fruit, blackberry and mulberry being most prominent.
The last red was the Miolo Lote 43, fifty-fifty cab/merlot. I was surprised by the lack of aromas coming off this one, faint whiffs of earthy black fruits. Tasted a bit green, almost pine sappy mixed up with blackcurrants and black fruits.
We rounded off the night with a sparkling white, the Miolo Millesime 2005. I liked the nose, malty and yeasty with a nice citrus note. It was tasty, slightly bready and yeasty with a nice peachiness to it along with a clean finish. The mousse was lovely and foamy but there were only a few lazy bubbles in the glass after a couple of minutes.
The verdict: I think they’ve got potential but it’s still a work in progress. If we needed any proof, it came at dinner afterwards. Since I was out with a bunch of food bloggers they knew where to go and we ended up at Ping Pong a dim sum house in Soho and ordered the house Chilean red. Wow, I don’t know what it was but it was a fine example of red wine, supple and fruity, nicely balanced and enjoyable.
We’ll just have to wait and see how the Brazilians do.