Wines of the World Cup: Round 4

Brazil vs Portugal!

Herdade do Esporao Reserva Red, Alentejo, Portugal

With less than two weeks to go before the first match of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, things are heating up here at the Wines of the World Cup as we and head into Round 4, and what a round it is!  Brazil vs Portugal!

In the UK, we are great lovers of Port, but Portugal is also the home to some increasingly wonderful still wines.  You may have tried a Vinho Verde, a light, refreshing white, the ideal accompaniment to sunshine and seafood, but there are many incredibly interesting reds from this country and the quality is rapidly on the rise.

Brazil, on the other hand, you may not have seen on your wine shop shelves or local wine lists, but that’s about to change. There are only a few small regions in the massive country best known for carnival and soccer, but thanks to improvements such as vinification techniques and traveling consultants, the wines are quickly becoming serious contenders.

Portugal has many wine producing regions with largely contrasting climates, average rainfall and days of sunshine vary dramatically between certain regions, yet they all are capable of making incredible wines as long as the right grapes are grown in the right places. Among the best regions are Douro, Dao, Alentejo and Bairrada.

Speaking of grapes, this is a country with a most exciting and interesting array of indigenous grape varieties – most of which have always been among a nameless blend used in Port, but now the single varietal wines are being produced, we are learning their names. Among the whites look for: Arinto, Antao Vaz, Alvarinho, Loureiro and for reds try Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Baga and Tinta Roriz (another name for Tempranillo). They do also grow international varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

Brazil’s wine history is a long, but fractured one because even though vines were grown there as far back as 1626, it wasn’t until the Italian immigrants settled in the southern part of the country in the 1870s that viticulture became a serious endeavour.

Since most of the country is extremely hot and the land is inhospitable to growing vines, the cooler, higher altitudes of the south are where to find the country’s vineyards. Serra Gaucha in the southern region of Rio Grande do Sul and Campanha on the border of Uruguay, are the places to look for the best and most interesting wines.

A range of grape varieties are grown here, including many Italian varietals introduced by the original settlers. Most commonly you’ll see Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo along with Portuguese varieties of Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz.

The quality of Brazilian wine has risen quickly over recent years and while for the moment it is wise to seek out a trusted producer, the wines from Brazil are nothing to be feared, on the contrary, should be celebrated for their arrival as serious contenders in the world of wine.

Here are two exceptional wines that I highly recommend you taste and see for yourself the exciting wines coming from these two most interesting countries.

The wines I tasted for Round 4 were:

 

Quinta do Seival 2005, Miolo, Brazil

Quinta do Seival 2005, Miolo, Fronteira, Brazil

This is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and has a robust nose of figs and plums.  The palate is more of the same accentuated by chocolate and prunes with soft, structured tannins and a flattering finish. The wine would be best served accompanying a grilled leg of lamb or breast of duck, or any of the traditionally Portuguese dishes such as Espetada, marinated beef skewers.

Herdade do Esporao Reserva Red, 2007, Alentejo, Portugal

 

 

Herdade do Esporao Reserva Red

 

A blend of Aragones, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet. This wine is made by an Australian winemaker, David Baverstock, who studied wine in the Barossa Valley and has lived in Portugal for over 28 years. This particular wine is quite striking for its pungent aromas of dense black and red fruit followed by a mouthfilling richness of that same fruit wrapped in fresh vanilla pod and soft, rounded tannins.  The finish is lengthy and complex and can easily lead into bottle number two!

This was a difficult choice to make as I think these are two beautiful wines, but in the end,

My Winner is: PORTUGAL!

For more information, take a closer look at the wines of Miolo and Herdade do Esporao.

Check out the previous rounds of Wines of the World Cup:

Round 1: France vs South Africa: Bordeaux Blends!

Round 2: Italy vs New Zealand: Pinot Grigio!

Round 3: Germany vs Australia: Riesling!

Stay tuned for Round 5 when we’ll be looking at USA vs England: sparkling wine!

There’s always time for wine!

Tara – Wine Passionista

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