The unlikely terroir: a wine from São Paulo

IMG_20150124_154258I grew up hearing that Brazilian wine were no good. My father, my grandparents, my uncles, and none of their friends understand anything about wine. The little they use to drank, however, was imported. Most of the time, Portuguese wine. Later in my teens, I notice they had begun to be interested in what was produced in Rio Grande do Sul. São Paulo wine, or San Roque wine, was still synonymous for bad jug wine. Nobody home drank it. Maybe my maternal grandfather, who was from an Italian family. But I do not remember. Soon after, I started to drink wine myself, Chilean wine, Portuguese, Argentinean and, very rarely, Southern Brazilian wine. And I liked the game. From the beginning  I also started to explore the theme, to read about it. And, according to everything I read or heard from those who knew more than me, there was always a certainty: the state of São Paulo, like most of Brazil, had no terroir for planting wine grapes. The soil was too rich, the rain too strong, the weather too hot and there was no defined seasons. We were the land of coffee, alcohol, soy, but definitely not the land of wine.

Last month the city of São Paulo turned 461 years. And I made a toast for it with a São Paulo State’s wine, Guaspari Syrah / Vista do Chá 2011, produced at Espírito Santo do Pinhal. Oddly enough, the wine is very good. Has round tannins, a certain complexity of aromas, great acidity, all very well balanced. São Paulo, who could tell, is also the land of wine. How come?

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Cris, a friend of mine, had taken a bottle of this wine for our last New Year’s Eve. Not very confidently, she said: “The friend who gave me this said it was good.” I had heard about Guaspari. So, I loved having the chance to taste the wine. On the other hand Lu, who dislike even the gaucho wines, looked very suspicious. We drunk it and we loved it. Last week, the personal of Guaspari winery came to ABS-SP (Associação Brasileira de Sommeliers de São Paulo). They featured a tasting of five of their wines: two vintages, 2012 and 2013, of the Sauvignon Blanc, a vintage, 2011, of the Syrah / Vista da Serra and two seasons, 2011 and 2012, Syrah / Vista do Chá. All the wines received only praise from nearly one hundred experts who were gathered there.

The  Guaspari Winery as well as other wineries from Minas Gerais and Goiás transfers the crop for the winter, when the weather – temperature range, sunshine and lack of rain – is more favorable, closer to the weather at traditional producing areas. Instead of a single trimming they make a formation pruning (immediately after harvest), and then a production trimming. That is, when the plant is wanting to sprout, they prune. So it springs up in another era. The harvest takes place between July and August.

It is an ambitious project, which received a high investment. There are 50 acres of grapes planted in Santa Ines Farm, a traditional coffee plantation. The default is all quite high. The harvest is manual, made by parcels which are vinified separately. The selection is rigorous and the transport surrounded by care. All wines including Sauvignon Blanc, go through French oak. The winery also has technical advices from international experts. All this is expensive. Their wine could not be cheap. The Sauvignon Blanc costs R$ 90 and the Syrahs R$ 130. You will tell me: “With this money, I can buy a good French wine.” Yes, you can. But there are thousands of French wines  A wine from São Paulo, only this one.
A toast to São Paulo.


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