Sunday, 20 June 2010

Précis: The wines of Brazil vs Bangui

Unbeknownst to many, Brazil is a major wine producer. The biggest country on the continent with 16,000 producers cultivating 78,000 hectares of vines in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, which accounts for over half of all vineyards, Santa Catarina, Parana, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Pernambuco. 

Red grapes include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinot Noir; Italian Nebbiolo and Barbera, plus South American speciality Tannat. Whites typically mostly feature popular varieties like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinto Grigio.

Miolo wines are a reliable big brand producer whose names include Miolo, Fortaleza do Seival, RAR, Brazilwood and Los Nevados.

Miolo Alisios do Seival Tempranillo/Touriga Campanha is a good introduction; lots of red berry aromas, easy on the palate with bags of fruit and soft tannins. 

Fortaleza do Seival Pinot Noir offers raspberry and strawberry fruit with spices and chocolate. They also do a Pinot Grigio packed with tropical fruit.

Other producers include Salton, good for Chardonnay, Valduga, for Merlot, Don Laurindo and Boscato, both seemingly specialists in old-fashioned aged Reservas, and Lidio Carraro with single varietals Merlot, Nebbiolo and Tannat.

Bangui is the name given to Palm wine in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, the Ivory Coast. The 'tapped' sap of the palm - which is about 10% sugar - ferments naturally within hours and typically has a drinking life of only a day, after which it becomes increasingly acidic and vinegary, although some drinkers prefer it like that. 

In contrast to the juice tapped from the tree, which is clear, the wine is usually cloudy white, with alcohol content only 4%. Unfortunately, as  it's not very stable due to the continuous fermentation, the 'wine' soon becomes undrinkable. Consequently any that goes undrunk or unsold may just be poured away. That's right. Alcohol. Poured away. Shall we set up a rescue committee? 

The Ivory Coast may need one against Brazil. Or maybe not? 

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