Michele Chiarlo told me: “In Sao Paolo, and a large part of Brazil, the quality of food is the best in the world.” Indeed he was right. I’m coming back from a short, but intense, business trip to a green land and in certain ways I was amazed by the excellent level of food offered. The people who live in that country are possibly the most fascinating part. Very warm, positive, smiling, and never worried. Between one glass of wine and another, they talk about women and soccer, joking and sometimes arguing. Out of love for their own team they’ll sometimes falsify official statistics, in order not to admit the inferiority of one team to another.
Not only did I discover that Brazil is a land of great potential, but especially so for wine. Their market has been invaded by Chilean, Argentinian, and Uruguayan wines, for obvious logistical reasons and fiscal benefits. Italy is well-known, but informative advertising is missing. Brazil is an isolated market, both for its position as well as for the high taxes weighing down on alcohol imported from Europe, making the costs of bottles skyrocket.
Wines which are 3 euro at the supermarket in Italy cost no less than 13-14 euro. We’re talking about taxes that reach 60-70%. You also need to take the distance between cities into consideration. Days and weeks of transportation, which require very complicated planning. If you want to provide a fast service, you need to invest a lot into having multiple warehouses distributed throughout the country. On the other hand, the potential average price per bottle per Brazilians is important. The number of wealthy residents who love wine are increasing. The average consumer is still tied more to a brand than the wine itself or another denomination. Because of this, I believe that the future is right there, in sharing an area, a philosophy, and an education, opening the way for everyone.
I’ve observed that for the last few years in Langa, Brazilian tourists have increased, which is important to increase interest in our wines. Once again Tuscany is more popular, but I expect that we’ll reach them soon enough.
I only visited Sao Paolo, and while I don’t know anything about the rest of Brazil, the thing that jumped out for me is the traffic of the metropolis, which is reaching a level of total unsustainability. Taking three hours from the city center to the airport is normal. The rich go to work by helicopter and if the trend continues there will be, as they call it in Portuguese, transito in the sky. Another aspect which makes you think is how the very rich and very poor live together, almost as if ignoring each other. It appears that no one wants to face the biggest problems of the city. Everyone goes their own way and makes do with what they can.
But let’s get back to wine. Restaurants are mainly high level, but Brazilians don’t seem very interested in the Michelin stars which are slowly creeping into some of their best restaurants. The average palate is tuned to the fruit bombs of color and flavor of South American wines. However, our nebbiolos matched with their Brazilian meat is a wonder. It’s hot here, but you can drink red wine and eat meat every day.
It’s a shame not to have visit the coast. It’s a shame not to have experienced the wild. But I’ll be back soon to enjoy the carefree demeanor of this novice giant.