Thursday, November 24, 2011

Churrascaria, You Don't Say

So, it's our last night in Greensboro and we wanted to take Boo's brothers (plus 1 wife and 1 son - not each, just the only ones that were around) for dinner. HDR3, being the local bro, thought it would be fun to visit a Brazilian steakhouse - or churrascaria. None of us had been to one before - and we did have Carolina BBQ earlier. Game on.

The endless supply of red meat just cried out for a bit of red wine. I saw an Argentine blend on the wine list and thought "Argentina's right next to Brazil, this has got to go well." I'd never heard of Tikal before but it sounded like an easy blend.

992. 2009 Tikal Patriota (Mendoza - Argentina)

Turns out that Tikal is a project of Ernesto Catena - son of Nicolás Catena Zapata, one of the best known names in the world of Argentine wine. Tikal is the name of Ernesto's son and it is meant to be a bold, new world winery that plays to one's passions. The Patriota is a 60/40 blend of Bonarda and Malbec - the two red varietals that have been at the core of Argentina's wine tradition. The wine is meant to be a tribute to that tradition and to Catena's passion for Mendoza and Argentina.

With a steady supply of beef, pork, lamb and chicken, there was plenty of meat to wash the wine down with. The servers just kept a'coming and there was no way that I could even give every choice of meat a try - and I did try. HDR3 was the hands down winner on filling the plate but I think we all gave the restaurant a pretty good run for its money. With all that meat, however, our Tikal was finished early enough that the decision had to be made about a second bottle. As much as we liked the easy drinking Tikal, we decided to take a risk on a second bottle that I discovered on the wine list.

993. Miolo Lote 43 (Vale de Vinhedos - Brazil)

Yup, that's right - a Brazilian wine. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a Brazilian wine before - although I have heard that wine is made and is abundant. At $40, it was the most expensive South American wine on the list. That's got to be a bit of a cause for reflection. I asked our server what he knew about the wine and he couldn't say much at all. He offered to go ask the manager and came back to say that, understandably, they don't sell a lot because of the price point. However, he was able to say that, once ordered, people seemed to enjoy it and that no one had ever sent back a bottle. Sounded like a decent gamble to me.

Miolo is a large volume producer in Brazil and is apparently quite popular. I did a quick Google search on "best Brazilian wine" and Miolo showed up on each of the search results. The winery and vineyards are located in the south of Brazil, in the Vale de Vinhedos or the Valley of Vineyards - the only region that has a certificate of geographic designation for wine.

Most folks associate Brazil with Portugal when it comes to European tradition but the region in question saw a lot of Italian colonization. Indeed, I read that there are over 25 million Brazilians of Italian descent and that Brazil is home to the largest community of the Italian diaspora. The Miolo family started cultivating grapes in the valley as early as 1897; however, they only started making their own wines in 1990. They quickly grew to the point that they produce 4 million litres of red, white and sparkling wine annually.

The Lot 43 is the winery's icon wine and it's a Cab Sauv/Merlot 50/50 blend. We were pleasantly surprised that it tasted as good as it did. Most references to Brazilian wine say that the Brazilians should stick to Brahma beer and Caipirinhas, but the Miolo family has brought in world famous, French consultant Michel Rolland and it would appear that he's had some beneficial influence. Nice, up front fruit and structure to the wine but I'm not sure I'd lay it down for plenty of ageing. A Brazilian wine was a neat novelty though.

The evening's end came too quickly - even if we couldn't have eaten any more meat. It was soon time to start the goodbyes because Dan-o was back to Florida first thing in the morning and Boo and I had to make our way out to the Atlantic coast for a final weekend to the vacation. The three days that we did get with the family was lovely way to catch up with everything that was happening.

Cheers to that.

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