- Brazil & The Rest of South America
Bento Gonçalves, a city of 105,000 people, is the Bordeaux of Brazil. It lies at the centre of the Vale dos Vinhedos (Wine Valley), a sub-zone of the Serra Gaúcha wine region in Brazil’s southern-most state Rio Grande do Sul. Money, mostly private, is being pumped into the Brazilian wine industry like newly fermented wine into an empty steel tank. Export markets are being targeted enthusiastically.
Located at parallel 29°, Serra Gaúcha has an average winter temperature of 12°C. In the summer, temperatures average 22°C, much cooler than in the north. The humidity caused by high rainfall means that spraying is essential. The lush landscape implies very fertile soils, which, because they encourage excessive vegetation, are not always the best for growing grapes for quality wine. The prevailing soil type is argillaceous, with plenty of clay. This suits Merlot well and also tempers the acidity promoted by the region’s high altitude. Bento Gonçalves is at 690 metres above sea level, though vineyards in the Vale dos Vinhedos tend to be a bit less than that. Vinifera rather than hybrid vines are now universal for “fine wines.”
The Rest of South America
The only other country to have any real potential for quality wine production is Uruguay. Hybrid varieties are still important in the area planted but high quality vinifera varieties are becoming more significant. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are all cultivated. Most important from a quality wine perspective is the Tannat. Elsewhere the climate is too hot and humid.
The following wine producers have a full profile in Wine behind the label:
A to Z of producers