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WSET Diploma Unit 3: Americas > Uruguay And Brazil > Flashcards

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Basque settlers bought vines, in particular Tannat to Uruguay in the 1870’s.
Temperate, maritime climate, similar to Bordeaux. Rain year round makes mildew and black spot a problem; vines trained on lyre system to minimise this. Most vineyards are situated near Montevideo on rolling hills with a range of soil types.
Recent emphasis on export has led to an improvement in equipment and techniques.
Tannat is produced in a range of styles, but fruity dry red is the main one exported. Often blended with Merlot to soften the powerful tannins.




Most of Brazil is too hot and lacks defied seasons for the growth cycle of the vine.
80% of the grapes grown are American varieties or hybrids.
The vineyards of Serra Gaucho benefit from high altitude and southerly location. Damp conditions make rot and mildew a problem. Most of the production is sweet and sparkling, following the Asti method; Serra Gaucho accounts for 80% of the Brazilian wine production.
Grapes also planted along the border with Uruguay and in the tropical north of Rio Sao Francisco.


Brazil: History


1532: Portuguese vines introduced in Sao Paulo state.
1626: Spanish vines introduced by the Jesuits but later abandoned.
18th: 3rd try by Azores settlers to establish vinifera vine cuttings but climate too hot & humid
1840: first planting of the Isabella American vine on the South Coast or Rio Grande

Early 20th: devt of the industry with communication networks btw Rio and southern wine regions + first cooperatives

1970s: first quality wines driven by international companies and more modern wine making


Brazil: Key Regions and Characteristics


Concentrated in the extreme south in the state of Rio Grande do Sul

Main sub regions:

  1. Serra Gaúcha - 38,000ha of vines:
    - Southerly location, north of Porto Alegre
    - Hi altitude (average 700m)
    - Shallow acid soils, not fertile with hi water retention clay
    - Hi rainfall (700mm during growing season & 1,800mm/year)
    - V. small vineyards (average 2.5ha)
    - Trial to minimise yields on Vinifera varieties
    - Whites: grapes often picked before full ripeness -> hi malic acid in S.G’s whites. MLF or not. -Reds: light and acid wines with some experimentation in new oak.
    - Sparkling: Asti method.
  2. Campanha (or Fronteira) on the border with Uruguay and Argentina.
    - Less humid with lower rainfall (850mm/year)
    - Flatter topography with sandy soils and good drainage
    - All Vinifera varieties
    - Espalier system
    - Rolland consults for Miolo there
  3. Sao Francisco Valley (500ha of Vinifera)
    - In arid north part of the country, only 9 degrees below equateur
    - Tropival viticulture with: >1 harvest/yr + Pergola system
    - Modern reds emerging

Brazil: Grape Varieties

  • 80% of grapes grown are American varieties or hybrids.
    Isabella: Vitis Labrusca American hybrid; named after Isabella Gibbs who developed it in early 19th; can survive tropical conditions; most common variety in Brazil; develops foxy (≠fruity) wines esp. reds; used for sparkling wines, basic quality wines or table grapes
  • 20% (~5,000ha) vinifera varieties. Chardonnay, Sémillon, Gewürztraminer & Welschriesling in the high altitude Serra Gaucha

Brazil: Trade

  • # 3 biggest wine producer in South America with 60,000ha/330m btls/year. #17 wine producer in the world.
  • Low Brazil wine consumption internally: 2l/pers/yr
  • Key producers:
    Vinicola Aurora Cooperative:
  • Largest winery in Brazil w 2,650ha for 42m litres; more than 1,000 families are members
  • Most international varieties represented; also produces grape juice

Miolo Group

  • Established in ’08; present in all wine regions w 1,200ha for 12m litres
  • Internationally-oriented; Michel Rolland consultant there

Uruguay: History

  • 1870s: vineyards planted by Basque and Italian settlers.
  • Tradition of ‘peasant’ smallholdings (~5ha average vineyard size) that continues today.
  • Wine initially produced for local consumption.

Uruguay: Key Regions


80% of vineyards in Montevideo neighbouring departmentos.

Other regions:

  • Cerro Chapeu – Brazilian border
  • El Carmen – centre
  • Carpinteria – centre

Uruguay: Climate and Weather


Only South American wine producing country influenced by the Atlantic Ocean

Temperate, maritime climate [rainfall & heat summation similar to Bordeaux]

Rain year round -> mildew & black spot risks -> Lyre system to prevent this


Uruguay: Soils and Typography


Mostly on rolling hills around Montevideo with deep clay soils.

The 3 C’s: Cerro Chapeu, El Carmen & Carpinteria -> poorer soil (interesting)


Uruguay: Red Grapes


Tannat (‘Harriague’)

  • brought by Basque settlers in the 19th - 36% of all plantings
  • Tough, deep black berries.


  • 10% of all plantings
  • Often used to blend with Tannat to soften tannins

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Franc


Uruguay: White Grapes



Sauvignon blanc

Muscat Hamburg

  • lowest quality wine producing Muscat
  • crossing btw M. of Alexandria + Trollinger
  • black berried table grape
  • used for Rosé in Uruguay

Uruguay: Viticulture and Winemaking


Vinifera varieties (≠ American or hybrids)

Lyre system

Hi yield issue but rise in more quality products in the recent years.


Uruguay: Wine Styles


Tannat -> dry fruity reds to be drunk young with riper and softer taste vs. Madiran for export


Uruguay: Production


3,500 growers

4th largest South American wine-producing

8,500ha of vines for 850,000hl of wine/year (based on 2005 harvest). • Key producers: Bouza, Pisano, Castillo Viejo, De Lucca.


Uruguay: Trade


Hi & increasing domestic wine consumption: 32L/pers/yea

Emphasis on export with neighbouring Brazil = 60% of Uruguayan exports. • International interest in Uruguay => joint ventures:

  • Progresso: Pisano+Boisset (Burgundy’s largest wine producer and exporter founded in ’61) in 2003
  • Carrau+Freixenet (largest exporter of Cava

Uruguay: Wine Classification


INAVI: Uruguayan National Institute for Vitiviniculture.

2 classes:
A. Vino de Calidad Preferente (VCP): 10% of production. Must be made from Vinifera grapes, 75cl or smaller.

B. Vino Común (VC): in demijohns & Tetrapacks. Mainly Muscat Hamburg Rosé.




is South America’s fourth most important wine-producing country with an area under vines of more than 9,000 ha/ 22,200 acres, of which more than 95% is for wine production. Total wine production in 2011 was of 900,000 hl/19.5 million gallons. The history of winemaking in the country is comparatively recent, starting as late as 1870, with vineyards planted by immigrants, mainly Basques and Italians. This tradition of ‘peasant’ smallholdings continues, with the average vineyard size being no more than 5 ha/12 acres. In all there are over 1,750 growers but fewer than 300 wineries, and only about 15% of those focus on higher quality and export. Wine was initially produced for local consumption and, with half the population of the country living in the capital Montevideo, four-fifths of the vineyards are in the immediately neighbouring departmentos, especially in Canelones. Most other vineyards are in the west, close to the Río de la Plata (River Plate), which forms the border with Argentina. Domestic wine consumption is high, and stable, currently standing at 22.5 l/6 gal per person per year. With the formation of Mercosur, announced at the end of the 1980s, the Uruguayans realized that they would have to protect their wine industry from Chilean and Argentine wine, with their lower production costs. In order to achieve this, the Uruguayan National Institute for Vitiviniculture (INAVI) embarked on a three-pronged campaign. Firstly, encouragement was given to growers to plant vinifera varieties, rather than the american vines and hybrids that then dominated. Secondly, the Uruguayans were urged to be proud of their own wines, with stress being laid on their purity and ‘naturalness’. (In an American report published at the 2004 World Economic Forum, Uruguay was ranked third most environmentally sustainable country in the world after Finland and Norway.) Finally efforts were made to conquer export markets despite limited promotional resources. brazil, because of a shortage of domestic red wine, is by far the most important export market, accounting for 60% of the total, followed at a considerable distance by the united states and russia. Wines are divided into two classes, VCP (Vino de calidad preferente) and VC (Vino Común). VCP wines, which account for about 12% of total production, must be made from V. vinifera grapes and be sold in 75 cl, or smaller, bottles. VC wine, which is sold widely in demijohns and tetrapacks, is predominantly rosé based on muscat of hamburg grapes, although this variety is in sharp decline thanks to increasing demand for V. vinifera wines even in this market sector. For better quality wines the dominant grape variety is tannat, introduced to Uruguay by Basque settlers and made with increasing enthusiasm and expertise. In 2013 it accounted for 24% of all plantings of wine grapes. Other red wine grapes are Merlot (11%), Cabernet Sauvignon (8%), and Cabernet Franc (4%), while white wines (around a quarter of total production) tend to be made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Most of the vineyards lie on deep clay soils on gently rolling hills to the north of Montevideo, but there are vines in 16 out of the 19 departmentos. More recent plantings in the Cerro Chapeu region on the Brazilian border and in El Carmen and Carpinteria in the centre of the country are on poorer soils where there is a bigger diurnal temperature variation (see temperature variability). The climate in Uruguay is influenced by the Atlantic, and often compared with that of Bordeaux, although the average rainfall (particularly in the south) and the average annual temperature are higher than in Bordeaux. Humidity can be excessive even though the climate seems to be getting warmer and drier, so the espalier training system is popular, gradually replacing the once-widespread lyre. High soil fertility has to be controlled by producers aiming high. The newest vineyard area to be developed is around Garzón in Maldonado. Here granite soils, higher elevations (up to 300 m/1,000 ft), and constant cooling breezes from the Atlantic promise less humid conditions for crisp whites, refined reds, and expanding olive plantations. International interest in Uruguayan wines has been shown by several recent investments, including Argentinian pesos at Garzón and Narbona, Brazilian Real at Filgueira, and California dollars at Artesana. International consultants are few in number (e.g. Alberto Antonini, Paul Hobbs, and Michel rolland) but more and more young winemakers such as Gabriel Pisano, scion of the family that more than any other has spread the word about Uruguayan quality wine, are gaining overseas experience to reinvest in Uruguay.




Distinctive, tough, deep black-berried vine variety most famous as principal ingredient in madiran, where its inherent astringence is mitigated by blending with Cabernet Franc, some Cabernet Sauvignon, and fer , and wood ageing for at least 20 months. If Madiran is Tannat’s noblest manifestation, slightly more approachable, if more rustic, wines are made to much the same recipe for Côtes de st-mont, as well as for the distinctively hard reds and rosés of irouléguy and the rare reds and pinks labelled tursan and béarn.

Overall plantings in France have remained fairly static and were 2,849 ha/7,037 acres in 2011. Although it may owe its French name to its high tannin content, the vine may well be Basque in origin and, like manseng, was taken to uruguay by Basque settlers in the 19th century, where it is by far the most important vine variety and, rather like malbec in argentina , seems to thrive better in the warmer climate of its new home in South America than south west france. In Uruguay, where it has been called Harriague after its original promulgator, there were more than 1,800 ha in 2013. Strategies for softening the grapes’ tannins include blending with such grapes as Pinot Noir and Merlot as well as all the usual winemaking techniques (see maceration, and micro-oxygenation which was developed for Tannat in Madiran in particular). Port and Beaujolais styles have also been made from it. From Uruguay it spread to other wine-producing countries in South America, and there are several hundred acres in California. The variety is seen as a minor but intriguing challenge by winemakers all over the world.




Brasil in Portuguese, vast country and third most important wine producer in south america after Argentina and Chile with 82,507 ha/203,840 acres of vineyards in 2012 of which only a little over 10,000 ha were vinifera. Of the 3.88 million hl/102 million galls of wine produced in 2013, 43% was still red, 34% was still white, and a significant 22% was sparkling. Only about 9% of all wine made in Brazil is vinho fino, made from V. vinifera grapes. table grapes are the main products of Brazilian vineyards.

The vine was introduced in São Paulo state by the Portuguese as early as 1532. Spanish vines were introduced by the Jesuits in Rio Grande do Sul in 1626, but viticulture was abandoned after the destruction of Jesuit missions in the south of the country. In the 18th century, settlers from the Azores tried for a third time to establish V. vinifera vine cuttings brought from Madeira and the Azores, but encountered severe problems in the hot, humid climate. The first vines to be successfully cultivated in Brazil were the American vine isabella (more often called Isabel in Brazil) that was first planted on the south coast of Rio Grande in 1840, but it was not until the arrival of Italian immigrants in the high Serra Gaúcha region in the north east of Rio Grande do Sul that viticulture was definitively established in Brazil, and even then, in the late 1870s, it was mainly the american vines Isabel and concord that were cultivated, subsequently supplemented by Italian varieties such as Barbera, Bonarda, Moscato, Peverella, and Trebbiano, and by Tannat as in Uruguay to the south.

Only in the early 20th century was any sort of national wine market established, with the development of communications between the centres of population such as Rio de Janeiro and the wine regions in the far south. The first co-operatives were established in the late 1920s.

Wines with serious claims to quality were not developed until the 1970s, when several important multinational corporations, including moët & chandon, Seagram, Bacardi, Heublein, domecq, and Martini & Rossi, established wine companies in Brazil and invested in modern winemaking equipment such as automatic temperature control, stainless steel, and imported barriques. Vine varieties such as Chardonnay, Welschriesling (Riesling Italico), Sémillon, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon were also imported, and a programme of viticultural improvements embarked upon.

Modern Brazilian viticulture is concentrated in the extreme south of the country in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, principally in the high, hilly Serra Gaúcha region, north and inland of the state capital Porto Alegre, and also in the much smaller, newer Campanha, sometimes called Fronteira, wine region on the border with uruguay and Argentina.

Serra Gaúcha incorporates about 31,000 ha/76,000 acres of vines, all grafted, at an average elevation of 700 m/2,300 ft, which is difficult to mechanize, and shared between so many small farmers that the average vineyard holding is just 2.5 ha. The relatively acid soils are shallow, not particularly fertile, and have a high proportion of water-retaining clay. Average rainfall here is very high for a wine region, about 1,800 mm/70 in, of which at least 700 mm falls during the growing season of September to February. The resulting effect on grape ripening means that enrichment of some sort, usually chaptalization, is almost always necessary. fungal diseases are a constant threat in this humid climate, and more than 80% of all vines are American vines or hybrids, still chiefly the usefully thick-skinned Isabel, grown to produce grape juice, table grapes, and wine of the most basic quality.

The most common vine-training systems are tendone to minimize the rot that is a perennial problem and espalier to encourage ripening of red wine varieties. For the V. vinifera varieties, efforts are being made to reduce yields, however, in attempts to maximize wine quality.

The grapes are often picked before full ripeness is reached and the white wines of Serra Gaúcha are usually high in malic acid. Different wineries have different policies on the desirability of malolactic fermentation for white wines. Red wines are, inevitably in this climate, relatively light (yields can easily be 14 tonnes per ha) and acid, although there has been some experimentation with new oak.

Serra Gaúcha can produce good-quality grapes for red wine (and substantial quantities for local vermouth), while Flores da Cunha in the east of the region is the source of much everyday wine. V. vinifera production is centred on Bento Gonçalves, a sort of tourist centre for the wine industry, immediately east of the Vale dos Vinhedos, Brazil’s first DO. Created in 2009, it established Merlot and Chardonnay as the accepted grapes (with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Tannat also allowed in red blends and Riesling Itálico (Welschriesling) for whites). Also within Serra Gaúcha, Garibaldi, where Moët-Hennessy Brasil is based, is the traditional area for sparkling wine production, many of these wines being made in the image of spumante, for Italian influence is strong in the region. However, many producers such as Cave Geisse are establishing themselves outside these boundaries. Geisse, in Pinto Bandeira just east of Bento Gonçalves, have shown just how good Brazilian sparkling wine can be.

With the exception of the the Vale dos Vinhedos, all the major companies have moved their fine-wine focus to the Campanha region, which is notably less humid and produces deeper-coloured wines. There are around 1,400 ha/3,500 acres of vines, all V. vinifera varieties, planted in Campanha on the border with Uruguay, chiefly in the communes of Santana do Livramento and Pinheiro Machado. This is much flatter country, used substantially for pasture and cereal crops, with sandy soils and good drainage. Most vines are trained using some sort of espalier system, and the average annual rainfall is about 850 mm/33 in, considerably less than Serra Gaúcha but still high enough to prejudice ripening.

North of Serra Gaúcha, in the state of Santa Catarina, a Vinhos de Altura (High Altitude Wines) association has been formed, centred on the São Joaquim Plateau (above 900 m/2,950 ft elevation), with promising results. Campos de Cima da Serra, a small new wine region between Serra Gaúcha and the Planalto Catarinense, has vineyards at about the same elevation.

Another, even more distinctive, relatively new wine region is in the São Francisco Valley in the arid north of the country just nine degrees of latitude south of the equator on the border between the states of Bahia and Pernambuco. tropical viticulture here involves more than one harvest a year. Irrigation from vines dependent on water from the local river is the rule here for the 570 ha of V. vinifera vines among a total vineyard area of 12,500 ha/31,000 acres in the early 2010s. Production costs are usefully low but the wines produced are relatively basic. Despite these signs of viticultural life, local wine has yet to penetrate Brazilian culture very deeply, and average consumption is still extremely low, well below 2 l per head per year, except in the predominantly European communities of the south, although interest in Brazilian wine both domestically and on export markets is certainly growing.


Joint Ventures


Common phenomenon in the late 20th century whereby two enterprises with very different strengths combine to produce a wine or wines. The modern prototype was that announced in 1979 between Baron Philippe de rothschild of Bordeaux and Robert mondavi of California to produce Opus One, the luxuriously priced Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, combining Mondavi’s knowledge of and holdings in the Napa Valley with the prestige and winemaking expertise associated with Baron Philippe’s first growth Pauillac Ch mouton-rothschild. Most joint ventures are designed to justify a premium over the other wines made in situ by virtue of a much-heralded connection with a glamorous outsider. Both Mondavi and the Mouton team embarked on subsequent joint ventures but they have been joined by dozens of other companies attracted by the global nature of today’s wine business (see globalization). Joint ventures are particularly well suited to new wine regions such as those in china and india, for example, where the winemaking expertise of an established wine producer blends well with an enterprise which can offer local knowledge and contacts.


South America


The world’s second most important wine-producing continent, after Europe, with argentina and chile now rivalling each other as most productive, followed by brazil. Other, relatively minor, wine producers are, in descending order of importance, uruguay, peru, bolivia, and paraguay, although see also colombia, ecuador, and venezuela. The North American wine producer mexico produces much more wine than Uruguay, for example. Spain and, in some parts, Portugal were important influences in the 16th and 17th centuries, although more recently France, Italy, and the United States have helped to shape South America’s wine industries. Wine quality has improved extremely rapidly in those countries—Chile, Argentina, and to a lesser extent Brazil and Uruguay—which have (relatively recently) turned their attention to exporting.


South America- History


The late-15th-century European voyages of discovery, notably to the Americas, were followed by migrations of European settlers there, associated with substantial movement of animals and plants between the two continents. Although indigenous varieties of vine grew in Central America (see vitis), there is no evidence that the Aztecs made wine from them, and it was thus with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century that vine cultivation and winemaking were first introduced to the region. Mexico was the first part of the continent to witness the introduction of European vinifera vines, and as early as 1522 Cortés is recorded as having sent for vine cuttings from Spain. Moreover, by 1524 the planting of vines was a condition of repartimiento grants, through which the Spaniards were granted land and labour on the foundation of Mexico City. From Mexico, the spread of viticulture followed swiftly on the heels of Spanish conquests.

Vines were planted in Peru soon after Pizarro’s defeat of the Incas between 1531 and 1534, and within 20 years Spanish commentators described vineyards producing a substantial quantity of grapes. Some of the earliest Peruvian vines appear to have been introduced from the canary islands, whereas others seem to have been derived from the seeds of dried grapes brought from Spain. From Peru, viticulture and winemaking then spread south to Chile and Argentina, where vines were cultivated as early as the mid 1550s, although there were even earlier experimental plantings on Argentina’s coast. See also monks and monasteries.

The traditional explanation for the rapidity of this spread was that the Spanish conquerors required a ready supply of wine for the eucharist, and that monks therefore played a central role in establishing vineyards. There is, however, little evidence to support this view, and many of the early vineyards and attempts to produce wine were on secular estates. Economic factors, such as the cost of importing wine and the difficulties of transporting it overland, meant that the early Spanish conquerors had a very real interest in establishing vineyards if they wished to continue to consume the main alcoholic beverage that they had known in Iberia. In particular, the long sea voyage across the Atlantic, followed by an overland haul across Panama, and then a further voyage down the Pacific coast, meant that most wine reaching Peru and Chile from the Iberian peninsula was likely to have been of poor quality.

By the end of the 16th century, Spanish restrictions on wine production in ‘New Spain’, designed to protect the metropolitan wine producers and merchants in Iberia, served to limit further secular development of viticulture in Mexico, but they also appear to have provided an incentive to Peruvian producers, who rapidly became the dominant wine suppliers to the region as a whole. Subsequently, in the 17th century, Jesuit missions along the coastal valleys of Peru became the most important centres of viticulture in the region.


Wines of Uruguay


is the organization formed by the wineries member of the Association of Exporting Wineries, and the Association of Wine Tourism, and has three main purposes:

a) The difussion and promotion of our wines abroad;
b) The increase in the production of quality wines; and
c) The promotion of wine tourism.

To achieve these goals, it carries out the projects of the wine conglomerate, in coordination with the INAVI (National Wine Institute) and other trade associations in this business sector.

Wines of Uruguay has also the support from the Planning and Budget Bureau through the PACC (Program in Support of Conglomerates and Producing Chains), the Ministry of Tourism and Uruguay XXI.

The wineries member represent more than 90% of the total exports of Uruguayan wines of high quality, and represent all the wine regions in the country.

Our mission is to contribute to consolidate the brand “Uruguay wine country” among commercial operators, opinion leaders and consumers. To achieve this goal we render services to the member wineries for the promotion and difussion on their products and services in the international markets. The most relevant activities are:
International Fairs.
Tastings and activities in different countries.
Receptive Missions: Inviting prestigious journalists, opinion makers or professionals in the wine business, to visit our country, its wine regions and its wineries.



  • Situated in the southern hemisphere between the parallels 30 and 35 S, like its fellow wine-producing countries of Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and Australia and New Zealand.
  • clay-based soil
  • The Uruguayan climate is influenced by Atlantic breezes, much like the Bordeaux region, although warmer than the latter. While the intensity of sunlight is similar to Argentina and Chile, refreshing currents of cool air hail from the Antarctic.
  • The wines produced here generally have a lower alcohol content as morphological ripeness comes with 12 to 12.5 per cent potential alcohol.
  • now exceeding 3.2 million litres per year.
  • With 9,000 hectares under cultivation all harvested by hand, Uruguay has gained international consecration as a producer of good quality, harmonious, and elegant wines.

Tannat- Uruguay


The Tannat grape was introduced into Uruguay in 1870 by Basque immigrants and has transformed itself into the “national variety”, adapting itself perfectly to the local soil and climate. Considered an exotic grape variety, demand for Tannat is increasing rapidly.

Uruguay is the only country in the world where significant amounts of Tannat are grown, more even than in its native Madiran and Irouléguy in south-west France. Tannat now represents approximately a third of all wine produced in Uruguay.

Tannat makes a red wine of intense colour, good aroma and body which is well suited to accompany beef and other red meats. It is a strong wine with a great personality which will surprise you.

Most Uruguayan winemakers ellaborate reserve quality Tannat wines by aging in oak barrels, which render considerable softness on tannins achieving excellent results. Its complexity and solid structure also allows for stylish unusual assemblages with different grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Shiraz.

Uruguayan wineries have also devoted to producing red wines of the best French grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with aging in oak barrels, or white wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, with outstanding quality.