C. De Melo is a Renaissance Art Historian & Author specializing in historical novels set in Italy. Please visit cdemelo (dot) com
Brazilian wine country
Toscana Brasileira (Brazilian Tuscany)
The breathtaking Serra Gaúcha is a little-known secret. I spent nearly two decades working as an educational tour guide in Italy, mostly in Tuscany. Imagine my surprise after arriving in Porto Alegre to learn there is a Brazilian Tuscany. Skeptical, I took off for a ten day exploratory trip.
Immigrants from northern Italy founded the city of Bento Gonçalves and the many surrounding towns such as Garibaldi, Farroupilha, and the quaint hilltop town of Monte Belo do Sul. The latter struck a chord in me because it reminded me of the Chianti. Boasting panoramic views of healthy vineyards and green lush hills, it caters to those who wish to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet.
Oreste Franzoni arrived from Italy with his own trademarked wine: Monte Bello. This entrepreneur had a vision, and he realized it by becoming the first person to commercialize wine in the country.
The original trademark and several other precious historical documents were destroyed in a fire during the 1950's. Oreste's grandson re-registered the trademark and built the current winery in 1987 in order to continue the family tradition.
Today, his great-grandson Bruno Celso is balancing that tradition with innovation. Rather than replicate traditional vintages, his philosophy is to exploit the very best from the terroir. In other words, work with what you have.
Monte Bello wines stored in historical cistern
Glera = Prosecco
Glera grape, which is found throughout the famous Valdobiaddene region in northern Italy, grows well in the rich soil of southern Brazil. So well, that the US and other nations are importing the national product in record number. This perhaps explains the reason why new protection laws will force Brazil to call their prosecco "Glera" (same grape, same method, different region).
In addition to two espumantes (one with 36 month maturation), and a rosé, Monte Bello has a delightful chardonnay.
Let's Talk REDS
Brazil is a tropical country. Warmer weather lends toward the production of whites. Although it does snow in the Serra Gaúcha, it is relatively warmer than wine regions in Chile or Argentina. With this said, I was impressed to learn that Bruno's merlot won the gold medal in Brazil.
Clã (Clan) is the name of this award-winning red with a highly floral nose. Complex with bright cherry notes make it a great accompaniment to the churrasco (local BBQ).
I'm anxiously awaiting a blend that is slated to be released at the end of this year: 50% merlot, 30% marselan, 20% malbec. I foresee a full bodied wine with a velvety finish. You can keep tabs on what's new by visiting their website or following them on Instagram
Authentic wine bar
The Vale dos Vinhedos (Valley of the Vineyards) has many wineries that are producing excellent vintages. Given the growing popularity of Brazilan wines, wine bars are popping up all over the place. Many of these purchase wine from various distributors and slap their own label on the bottle.
If you're seeking authenticity, look for establishments like the one mentioned in this article that offer products (proudly) made in house. It will make all the difference in your wine tasting experience.
Thanks for reading!
C De Melo (author) on September 12, 2021:
Thank you so much. Yes, I agree. It's important to keep traditions alive (especially from one's own family).
Liz Westwood from UK on September 02, 2021:
This is a very interesting and well-written article. It is good to see that the family has been able to continue in the winemaking trade.