Tuesday, 15 June 2010

World Cup Wines. Day Five. Brazil vs North Korea

Think of winemaking in South America and the countries that come to mind are probably Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, in that order. But what of Brazil? 

If you're supporting Brazil the temptation must be to reach for a bottle of Brahma beer or the ultra-trendy Sagatiba Cachaça, however Brazil is a major wine producer. The biggest country on the continent - and the biggest country in world football - has a thriving wine industry. Some 16,000 producers cultivate 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 grape varieties include French 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.

I'll start with Miolo wines - they're a reliable big name producer with brands such as Miolo, Fortaleza do Seival, RAR, Brazilwood and Los Nevados, which offer styles to suit all tastes including a sparkling wine, which I'm guessing will be much consumed these next couple of weeks. They've also picked up a few awards.

Miolo Alisios do Seival Tempranillo/Touriga Campanha is a good introduction to Brazilian wine; 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, who do a terrific Chardonnay, Valduga - best for Merlot, Don Laurindo and Boscato, both seemingly specialists in old-fashioned aged Reservas, and Lidio Carraro with single varietal Merlot, Nebbiolo and Tannat. Lots of choice.

Fruit wines are popular in the South so I'm presuming the division of the country hasn't affected drinking tastes in the North, especially for 'maesil ju' liquor, which is a kind of plum wine. 

Made from the fruit of the prunus mume tree that is also known as a Chinese plum or Japanese apricot, plum wine is typically golden yellow, nectar sweet although not strongly flavoured and can pack quite a kick at around 14%. You can often find it in Chinese and Japanese stores and restaurants as well as Korean.

Brazil have won the World Cup five times. North Korea are 1000/1 outsiders.

So, Brazil to win 5-0. Brazil may even win the tournament.

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