While in Rio I sent emails in an attempt to obtain some information on Brasilian wines. I received a reply from a very professional and helpful representative from Wines from Brasil. He helped to facilitate the process of deciding where to visit in my very short time in Bento Goncalves and to set up meetings. During my tour of Casa Valduga I was treated extremely well as the English speaking export manager educated me on the history of the family, it's role in the Brasilian wine industry as well as local culture. The same is true for my time with Lidio Carrero starting when I was picked up and driven to the vinicola (winery) to meet with the daughter of the wine maker for a tasting of their fantastic boutique wines.
Before the tour I was able to taste some of the typically southern Brasilian cuisine, which is heavily influenced by the local Italian immigrants. Starting with a Capaletti soup, some fresh greens, pastas and meats all being passed by servers moving around the dinning room.
The meal was finished with Sagu, a traditional desert from this area made with WINE, tapioca and sugar.
THE first bottle of wine produced by the Valduga family after they shifted from being solely a producer and seller of grapes to a proper vinicola.
The sparkling white bottles ready for disgorging, after the second fermentation in which the crown cap is removed along with the yeast that has collected beneath the cap.
Popping a cork the old fashioned way, WITH A SWORD!
Casa Valduga is investing in their sparkling white wine program, which is understandable once you have a taste. The soil in this region is slightly more acidic which is more conducive for grapes to be used in the production of sparkling wine.
Lidio Carraro, a boutique vinicola run by the Carraro family, graciously opened its doors to me so I could meet with the Patricia Carraro as she explained the family's history and plans for the future. One of the most striking differences that I found was the choice to leave oak out of the equation. They are in the mindset that oak detracts from the "true expression" of the grape. There is also a strong emphasis on research in soil types and location of the vineyards. I found many of the varietals a pleasant surprise and with an unopened Tempranillo and a Tannat in my bag I am anxiously awaiting the discovery of yet two more of Carraro's fine wines.