Luiz Alberto, #winelover. Founder of the #winelover community, member of the Circle of Wine Writers, judge at International wine competitions, wine educator and communicator. /•/ Philip S. Kampe, #winelover: Growing up in New Orleans has opened my eyes to the world of wine, food, and culture. My heritage is a combination of French, British, and Hungarian. Add eight years of European life coupled with a wife of Italian roots and you will understand my journey into this amazing world.
According to Embrapa, Brazil's Grape and Wine Research Institute, the
2012 harvest shows exceptional promise with quality equivalent to the
great vintages of 1991 and 2005. This is especially true in Serra
Gaucha, Campos de Cima da Serra, Campanha and Serra do Sudeste in Rio
Grande do Sul and Planalto Catarinense in Santa Catarina, regions
representing 90% of Brazil's total wine production.
Celito Guerra, top researcher at Embrapa, considers the 2012 harvest in
Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina to be among the top three of the
last 50 years, attributing success to the presence of the La Niña – a
climatic phenomenon which normally occurs in alternate years. "This
season was a filled with sunlight, low humidity and rainfall and
exceptional thermal amplitude, resulting in greater maturation of grapes
on the vine." says Guerra.
Jose Fernando da Silva Protas, Embrapa researcher, states "this vintage
combines exceptional climatic behavior with new vineyard management
techniques and state of the art technology. The expected result is wines
with a delicate balance of sugar and acidity; fresh fruit aromas (white
wines) and good color and tannins (red wines)".
According to Ibravin (Brazilian Wine Institute), this harvest will
produce an estimated yield of 1,534 million pounds – enough to produce
327 million bottles of wine in Rio Grande do Sul. And, "while the losses
suffered as a result of hail storms were measurable, they were off-set
by the increase in cultivated area over the past several years" states
Alceu Dalla Molle, President of Ibravin's Advisory Board.
2012 Harvest ReportRegional Vintages
There are particularities for each wine-producing region in the country.
For a 2012 harvest report specific to each region, click the hotlinks
The favorable climatic conditions of 2012 and the new vineyard
management techniques applied by producers resulted in the production of
high quality fruit.
Serra do Sudeste
The 2012 vintage in Serra do Sudeste was exceptional.
Aromatic richness, a balanced palate, moderate acidity and slightly
astringent tannins describe 2012 vintage wines produced in the region of
Planalto Catarinense is comprised of high altitude vineyards that are largely influenced by thermal amplitude.
Vale do São Francisco
Producing two harvests a year and at 9 degrees latitude, this unique
wine region is the world's closest to the Equator. The climate is
semi-arid with minimal rainfall, with cycles ranging from 120 to 130
“To succeed in the Languendoc region of southern France, you
need a clear understanding of the region and its visible and not-so-visible
potential. A true example is Tautavel or
La Liviniere where we were pioneers. You need a clear strategy to become the
leader in premium wines in the south of France. Ten or fifteen years ago,
selling a bottle of wine was 60% a matter of quality. Today, it is one third
quality, one third distribution network and one third marketing”
Winegrower Gerard Bertrand sums up the wine scenein France and speaks for the rest of
the producers worldwide.
Gerard inherited his passion for wine and his love for the
Languendoc region from his father, Georges. His father was a pioneer in
creating and marketing super-premium wines from the region.
Gerard Bertrand, at age ten, had his first experience in harvesting and
winemaking with his father. At age twenty-two, Gerard took over the family
business after his father, Georges, untimely death.
When Gerard turned twenty-seven, he purchased Domaine Cigalus and Chateau
Laville Bertrou , adding significant properties to his winemaking portfolio.
Today, Gerard owns six properties in the
Languendoc-Rousillion region and has over 900 acres of vineyards.
In addition to his vineyards, Gerard partners with over
forty growers and over ten co-ops to source grapes. His wines range from
affordable to collectable.
In 2002, at age thirty-seven, Gerard Bertrand purchased Chateau I’Hospitalet
and started to develop wine tourism on his property.
His vision has paid off.
Chateau I’Hospitalet sits within and is surrounded by 2500 acres of trees,
flowers and vineyards. Committed to sustainability and ECO friendly agricultural
practices, Chateau I’Hospitalet has been deemed as a “Carbon Neutral Estate”—a
symbol that designates harmony between nature and the environment.
This is a very rare award and is cherished by Gerard
The Chateau has thirty-eight guest rooms , a bar and lounge
and a wine tasting cellar . Since 2004, the estate hosts an annual
International Jazz Festival.
Chateau I’Hospitalet, located near Narbonne, overlooks the sea and is dedicated
to the Mediterranean lifestyle and wine culture of the region.
Chateau I’Hospitalet is considered and recognized as one of France’s premier
hotels and restaurants.
Gerard, a celebrated ex-Rugby player, recently explained his
wine philosophy to me. He said in simple terms: “If you understand the
evolution in consumer behavior toward expressive, well-balanced and elegant
wines that are sold at fair prices, you will then succeed”.
And Gerard Bertrand has!
THREEWINES TO TRY….
CREMANT de LIMOUX ($16.99) is an aperitif, a sparkling white wine that is
full-flavored, crisp and elegant. Aromas of hazelnuts, lavender and white roses
prevail. The bubbly wine is made from 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc and 10%
Mauzac. This wine is well-balanced and has great acidity and is a real bargain.
TAUTAVEL ($13.99) is a red wine that is made from 50%
Grenache, 35% Syrah and 15% Carignan. Aged ten months in oak, this exceptional
wine is dark fruit driven that shows a special sweetness on the palate. The
tannins are well-balanced and pair well with mature cheese and grilled red meat.
VIOGNIER ($14.99) is an exciting, crisp, white wine that pairs perfectly with
all types of fresh seafood, chicken and shellfish. The bouquet of tropical
flowers, hazelnuts and figs is overpowering, yet tame. Great acidity and
balance make this a perfect summer wine.
GERARD BERTRAND is a name to remember when searching for high quality wines at
As a wine and spirits judge, I have often found many
positive benefits associated with those who choose to take part in all facets
of the beverage industry. Writing about wine and spirits after sampling the
goods is a sure vehicle to success, granted that your palate and journalistic
skills are focused and well developed.
Recently, I was a judge at host William Rosenberg’s ‘Fifty Best’ domestic vodka
William sponsors events that focus on up to fifty varieties
of the same category of spirits and has a panel of judges, including myself,
who rate the products.
has been distilling spirits for centuries. Lately, there has been a resurgence
with an influx of hand-crafted, artisanal vodka. Practically every state now
hosts micro-distillers that produce vodka. There are no less than eight states
boosting five or more craft vodka distilleries including California,
New York, Oregon,
Their numbers continue to grow.
Much like craft brewers and vintners, the highly entrepreneurial master
distillers use local grains (or potatoes, corn, grapes, honey or apples) and
water to produce their small batch craft vodkas. These ‘homegrown’ ingredients
impart distinctive character and flavors to the finished products.
The dedication and expertise is inspiring. The local craft approach has proven
successful, even though most of the craft vodka brands are available only
within their home states and often sell out. If we are fortunate, national
distribution will introduce these vodkas to the enjoyment of aficionados
After we were seated at tables, William Rosenberg, of the ‘Fifty Best’ set-up
the rules for the tasting.Basically,
the 18 pre-qualified judges are going to sample 20 small batch, handcrafted vodkas
in a ‘blind’ tasting. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of the
vodkas to sample was established by lottery. Each of the vodkas were pored into
fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room
temperature. Only ice water and neutral unflavored crackers, unsalted nuts and
bar snacks were available to cleanse the palate. The judges tasted through two
flights of seven vodkas and one flight of six.
The 18 judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The
scoring was done on a five point system with five being the best score and one
as the worst. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals were awarded based on a set
range of final point scores received from the judges.
The results of the judges opinions of the top winners is
DOUBLE GOLD Medal Winners included: PEACE (New York) vodka that uses locally
grown wheat and Catskill mountain water; DOWNSLOPE CANE (Colorado) vodka uses
the juice of Maui sugar cane and is gluten free; KRA-ZE (New York) vodka is an
American take on Polish vodka; LIV (New York) is a potato based vodka that is
gluten free; COLD RIVER (Maine) uses 100% Maine potatoes and uses water sourced
from the Cold River Aquifer.
GOLD Medal Winners included: HIGH WEST (Utah) is an
oat-based, snowmelt water that is naturally filtered in deep rock aquifers;
MOST WANTED (Kansas) vodka is grain-based with slow filtration; REVOLUTION
(Colorado) is a grain based vodka that uses Rocky Mountain water; PLANTATION
(Georgia) is a blend of southern grain and corn which uses aquifer water
naturally filtered through limestone; MAKO (Florida) vodka uses had selected
distillers grains of corn and barley and natural iron-free limestone spring water
that is five times distilled.
Other GOLD Medal Winners included: VALENTINE (Michigan);
1876 (Texas); GOAT (Colorado); CLEAR 10 (Washington);
COLD STEEL (Oregon); MASTERMIND (Illinois) and BLUE FAME (Washington).