Brazil, a personal journey
I recall visiting Brazil as a young man. I travelled from chaotic Sau Paulo to the very south, to Rio Grande do Sul, where Brazil borders Uruguay and Argentina on the 29th parallel south, which is just about cool enough for growing wine grapes, at altitude, as well as in the lower lying coastal valleys. I was both a student of wine, and in the business of selling wine to national outlets. I was escorting the wine buyer for Victoria Wine (remember them?), a young lady called Ann Tonks. At the time I was working for an American company called Heublein Inc. who owned Vinicola Aurora, the biggest winery in all of Brazil. I recall the winemaking at the time was heavily influenced by immigrants from Argentina and Italy. It was some thirty-five years ago, and there had been substantial investment in the winery by the new owner, but viticulturally speaking it was still relatively backward. The wines were okay: fruity, clean, easy-going and of varietal character (vaguely) but without complexity or intensity. My client committed to buying at least a few containers of the best of them, Aurora Castel Chatelet Cabernet, in a partnership which saw the first Brazilian wine sold in the UK. For every bottle sold we made a combined contribution to helping fight the deforestation of the Amazon forests. I recall we had a conversation about the status of Brazil as a wine producing country. We agreed it could swamp all of Europe in volume terms, but qualitatively speaking it would likely always be behind Argentina, Chile, and even its southern neighbour, Uruguay. The second part remains true to this day, the first never materialised; but may still; already it is the third largest wine producer in Latin America, after Argentina and Chile. Moreover, the wines of Brazil are improving, as they are elsewhere, in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, even Columbia (despite the poverty). But there is a reason we stock only the wines of Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, and that`s because they are better. On offer in-store now.