I’ve been struggling with this choice for the better part of a month, if not longer. I was blown away when I tasted the 2008 Lidio Carraro Tannat Grande Vindima this past summer. It’s a powerful wine, a fruit bomb in many ways, and frankly not exactly what I look for in a wine. Still, the complexity, depth of flavor and balance of this massive wine that clocks in at 16 percent ABV were astounding. It’s the kind of wine many producers can only dream about and it comes from Brazil, of all places!
Our neighbors to the north can buy the 2005 vintage in Quebec from the SAQ, but we’ll have to wait until early next year before we see any of Lidio Carraro’s wines.
So why am I calling this the co-wine of the year?
Because it’s not the wine that is most representative of what I discovered in Brazil. I feel I also have to give special mention to the 2005 Lidio Carraro Merlot Grande Vindima.
You see, I was totally unprepared for the quality of the Merlot I encountered in Brazil, which at its most convincing combined all the best attributes of New and Old World styles. There was plenty of fruit along with a real sense of terroir, freshness, acidity, ripe tannins, elegance and modest alcohol. Even though Carraro’s Merlot packs in a significant 14.2 percent ABV, it still retained all of these characteristics, and that is remarkable.
These are both remarkable wines, even more so when you consider that Carraro doesn’t use oak for aging, just neutral steel tanks. What you experience when you taste one of his wines is pure Brazil and a wonderfully detailed expression of each of the respective grape varieties bottled.
Take, for instance, the Nebbiolo and Teroldego I tasted. I am very familiar with both of these varieties, and these were two of the greatest expressions of the grapes outside of Italy that I have tasted. All the Carraro wines exhibit excellent depth of fruit yet retain a sense of transparency that allows you to sense the terroir of these lands.
This seems to be a characteristic that all of the finest wines of Brazil share, so in a small way, this wine of the year award recognizes that. With all the work done in the vineyards and the winery at Lidio Cararro, these two stood out as the best wines coming from an exciting region that’s new to me. What could be more thrilling?