Snooth's Wine of the Year

Many were considered, but only one could be wine of the year




 
Snooth’s Wine of the Year 2013: 2008 Lidio Carraro Tannat Grande Vindima
 
Special Mention to: 2005 Lidio Carraro Merlot Grande Vindima
 
See all 12 Lidio Carraro wines tasted this year
 
I should mention a few details that led to the production of such remarkable wines.
 
Lidio Cararro, like so many of the wine producers in Serra Gaucha, is a descendent of Italian immigrants who arrived in Brazil in the late 19th century. As was custom, these new arrivals in a foreign land quickly began to set up a new life for themselves, one that retained the pleasures and necessities of that which they had left behind. With Italian immigrants, that meant wine, as is witnessed around the globe.
 
In the case of the Carraro family, as well as all of the winemakers in the Vale dos Vinhedos (Valley of the Vineyards), this meant working with their native grape varieties when possible, which was not very often. The climate in Brazil, warm and damp, was difficult for primitive farmers and only recently have farmers been able to get the upper hand in this battle.
 
For a century or so, the Carraro family farmed grapes, trained in the traditional pergola system, and more often than not, used American hybrids that produced wines of disputable quality. They probably did not think twice about the matter, until Lidio came along.
 
Lidio decided to make a life out of winemaking and grape farming, and the two go very much hand in hand. Thirty years ago, Lidio was one of the first proponents of moving the Brazilian wine industry into the modern era. Vitis Vinifera replaced the hybrids and modern vine training systems designed to produce quality fruit replaced the prolific pergola training systems.
 
It was a first step and one that proved successful, but there was more to do. Lidio became interested in the concept of terroir, not only in the sense that a wine expresses its site, but also in the notion that there are sites with distinctly different terroirs. How could he resist the temptation to find and develop the perfect vineyards? His choice to leave the comfortable employ of the industry might have been a practical decision, as well.
 
I can imagine the discussions he had nearly 20 years ago when he must have pled his case, suggesting that perfectly good vines be replaced with expensive, high-density plantings. Considering the conditions of the times, I expect it did not go over all that well.
 
All the better for us. In 1998, Lidio set out on his own. He planted seven hectares (about 17 acres) of vines, the right vines, trained the right way. Of course, it takes time for vines to begin producing fruit, so it wasn’t until 2002 that the first Lidio Carraro wines were produced. Here we are, just four vintages later, and Lidio is producing some of the best wines I’ve had all year.
 
There has to be some magic involved, right? There might be, some Biodynamic practices are being used as well organic farming methods, but the real magic seems to be a continued attention to detail. The introduction of a gravity fed winery, Brazil’s first, a diligent canopy management, green harvesting (the Tannat comes in at 1 kg per vine), hand harvesting, the decision to not use oak barrels, bottling the wines unfiltered. Every decision and every step is made with one purpose in mind, to put the essence of the grape variety grown at that specific site in every bottle.
 
It is obvious to me that the Carraro clan is doing things right. Across the board, their wines are delicious, and that is ultimately the highest praise one can offer a wine maker. Wine of the year comes in as a close second, of course.
 
Congratulations are in order for the Carraro team. I would like to thank them all for putting so much passion in each bottle. It opened my eyes to the incredible potential not only of their wines, but of all the wines of Brazil!

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Comments

  • Snooth User: Hatman
    222342 3

    Really? A $100 bottle of Brazilian tannat with an avg. 90 point CT rating which is impossible to find in the US - that's the best you could come up with?

    Oct 23, 2012 at 1:29 PM


  • Snooth User: Tukaussey
    461584 36

    This tells me that wine is priced like status symbols. $100.00 bottle of wine?

    Oct 23, 2012 at 1:46 PM


  • Snooth User: sdl55
    510702 96

    I too am appalled at this selection

    Oct 23, 2012 at 1:52 PM


  • Snooth User: pinga
    1152635 62

    What a ridiculous selection. Another extreme example of elite wine snobbery! Never mind the price point but choosing an obscure difficult to acquire varietal seems to be trying way too hard to out GEEK the pack. How about a wine that the masses can afford & obtain?

    Oct 23, 2012 at 2:36 PM


  • Snooth User: Al Faison
    196612 155

    Very interesting article, and having not tasted this wine I certainly am not arguing your choice. But how about this for an interesting concept: take a second shot at your Wine of the Year selection and choose one that 90% of your readers can actually find and afford to buy!

    Oct 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM


  • Snooth User: wayrutjr
    732333 15

    How much did the winery pay you to print this?

    Oct 23, 2012 at 3:04 PM


  • Snooth User: Sazonov
    573513 169

    Aren't you all asking for "Wine of the year that is affordable and available"? If you blindly tasted 100 wines and loved one more than all the others and uncovered the label only to find it was $100 dollars a bottle and harder to find than the others would your taste buds change their mind? I understand the frustration, I do. But part of the point was to praise and open up the discussion about Brazilian wine.

    Oct 23, 2012 at 3:15 PM


  • Snooth User: Hatman
    222342 3

    I think the point is that while we certainly applaud the winemakers at Lidio Carraro for producing a high-quality product, I am not convinced in the least, that their efforts are worthy of a "wine of the year" designation. There are other under appreciated wine regions, such as Hungary and Jerez, that produce incredible wines that are more affordable and can be procured with a little effort. Mr. Del Piaz can certainly sing the praises of this region without slapping a "wine of the year" label on a wine that is probably a really good example of Tannat, as opposed to a spectacular wine, apparently impossible to find if you do not live in Brazil or the UK and quite pricey. I am sure I could find plenty of $90 bottles (avg. price on wine-searcher is $91 to be exact) that would blow this wine out of the water. The fact that it is good wine and from Brazil should not make it "wine of the year".

    Oct 23, 2012 at 4:00 PM


  • When I first began reading this, I have to admit I was annoyed. My reasoning? I was a fan of Pinot Noir for years, and then Hollywood came out and crushed the Merlot industry and elevated Pinot Noir to Star Status. Suddenly my favorite wine became everyone's favorite wine. Supplies went down, prices went up, and I was now embarrassed to order or purchase Pinot as I figured everyone would assume I was just another sheep in the meadow. Today, I see a Tannat thrust forth to the top of the heap, and I think, "not again". Red carpet, bright lights, big city. Kodak Theater moment. Ah, but this time it is a $100 bottle, from Brazil no less. So, the sheep are angry. I say good for you.Start a boycott. Don't drink Tannat. Then I and a few others like me can continue to enjoy a wine that may have taken a limo ride, but knows where to reach us. When you do feel like splurging, go ahead with your Silver Oak and Plumpjack. I'll suffer with a glass of Tannat, and my heart will like it even more than Pinot. And my choice of Tannat is a lot less than $100, but I'd rather people didn't know it exists. When did the enjoyment of wine become so argumentative anyway?
    Keep up the honorable work Greg. BTW - I'm still unemployed. Wine helps though.
    CHEERS!

    Oct 23, 2012 at 4:26 PM


  • Snooth User: craigis
    1047628 9

    What? Is this an ad for Lidio Carraro?

    Oct 23, 2012 at 5:36 PM


  • Snooth User: Bev S
    991976 41

    I, too, am disappointed that the wine of the year is not only way out of my budget, but, also unavailable for purchase.

    Oct 23, 2012 at 6:44 PM


  • I am not disappointed at all. I believe it is great to find new wines that are usually made in small lots. The price is good too for an exceptional wine. Thanks for delivering a pick that is like a work of art and not mass produced. I don't believe a wine that has to be crafted as an art from soil to bottle can be mass produced.

    Oct 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM


  • Snooth User: Tukaussey
    461584 36

    To the last posting. ClaireOdie, I hope you get an opportunity to taste this small lot of wine.

    Oct 23, 2012 at 9:02 PM


  • To the last posting. Tukaussey, I hope you have a Bugatti Veyron for a summer ride and a Bentley for your 'winter beater'. We can't ALL have the "Best _____of the Year". Would you prefer Beringer White Zinfandel? The best just happens to be the best. This doesn't mean we can or should all have access to it. That is a liberal Democrat point of view. I clearly recall my father taking us kids for rides as children showing us homes in suburbs that had 'double front doors', He at least showed us that people can aspire to better. This does not mean we deserve it, or it should be handed to us to make life fair. We all have the right to make choices, as long as they are legal and within moral and ethical standards. I waited TEN years to be added to the mailing list for Leionetti. Due to that, despite unemployment issuses (not government subsidized), I chose to purchase a couple bottles to keep my spot. Smart?; perhaps not. But, I made choices, and it's still a "liquid" asset that I will sell if I need to. Face it, we can't all live in 40,000 square foot homes on the water, with full-time staff to serve us a properly chilled bottle of $100 Tannat in a Reidel glass at our beck and call. So what?? I pride myself on finding a wine/sub-$40 Tannat/whatever that pleases my greatly and gives me pride to introduce to my friends. THIS is what should bring joy to your life. And this, from a conservative that has suffered for years from "major depressive disorder". If I can find joy in something else, someone else should be able to as well. Settle in to a favorite chair, and drink something you really like. That's what life should be. Otherwise, buy a Picasso and brag about it. Whatever works.

    Oct 23, 2012 at 9:47 PM


  • Snooth User: Brian Mack
    108176 25

    Hmmm... $100 does seem a stiff ask for a fairly obscure varietal. Not sure I'd spill that much when you can get some tasty tipples for a snip of that at the K Mart. Assuming, of course, we could find the Lidio in the first place. But good is good, and for the exceptional we will pay the price though I would have preferred some clearer rationale as to why this wine came out on top relative to numbers two and three. Kudos to GDP for bringing attention to a new player on the international wine block, and here's hoping it opens the door to more quality exports from Brazil! If they don't get whacked by severe import duties... :(

    Oct 23, 2012 at 9:52 PM


  • Following that, I will pour another glass of sub $5 Temperanillo from Trader Joe's and go fold my laundry.
    CHEERS!

    Oct 23, 2012 at 10:04 PM


  • Snooth User: Martin E
    249368 16

    Sorry, I've no clue about Brazilian wines and probably I am missing something. But when it comes to quality I stick with Bordeaux. My best wine of the year is CH LA DOMINIQUE 1982. I would have never imagined this property could reach such heights! Another example is Ch Gloria 1996; wine from this obscure chateaux shows so much complexity that you can live your whole life while sipping one glass. And it got only 88 pts from Mr. Parker (he probably tasted it when it was 2 years young and didn't bother to go back). Sorry, I have no notes on Brazilian wines; I am too primitive for real wine connoisseurs.

    Oct 23, 2012 at 10:57 PM


  • Snooth User: Bish
    135655 5

    This is why I did not participate. Completely ridiculous. Tannat? It's a difficult enough wine in SW France. Just laughable.

    Oct 23, 2012 at 11:29 PM


  • Snooth User: Bish
    135655 5

    Upon reflection and to follow-up on my previous post; I suppose it's nice to attempt to arrive at a wine of the year but really, it must be wines of the year. Allowance must be made for vintage, cost, and varietal or blend. Some posters have mentioned older wines as their particular favorites, but to delve into that area is to speak of all-time wines rather than current wine(s) of the year. I realize that incorporating multiple categories makes the tallying more difficult, but by doing so we, at least, avoid having such a dubious champion as we have this year.

    Oct 24, 2012 at 12:32 AM


  • Has this become a Lidio Carraro "special advertising section"?
    Should we be told?

    If you have $100, it takes guts to risk it on an entirely new country without tasting the wine first, because the alternatives foregone are known - and probably more than one bottle for the hundred. Innate conservatism and centuries of delivering the goods would have me taking Martin E's recs for Ch Gloria 1996 and Chateaui la Dominique 1982 every time before shelling a hundred on a 16% tannat from Brasil.

    Oct 24, 2012 at 6:17 AM


  • Snooth User: GuiMarFon
    917797 47

    You can all cry about it, but sometime you´ll have to face the fact that Brazil is going to be better than anybody in everything. This commentaries just show the prejudice when it comes to brazilian stuff. Lidio Carraro´s wines are great, and surely deserve this award.

    Oct 24, 2012 at 6:29 AM


  • Better than anybody in everything?

    Certainly we should send you wayne Rooney for some basic ball control training!!!

    While on subject of powerful Merlots, there's a very naughty Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot 2009 at 14.2% and I can certainly recommend it at about £20 UK rrp.

    Oct 24, 2012 at 6:35 AM


  • Snooth User: GuiMarFon
    917797 47

    Rooney? You must be kidding... I won´t discuss football on a wine article... Specially because you can´t argue with someone with so many world cup titles... One, isn´t it?

    Oct 24, 2012 at 6:42 AM


  • Snooth User: Hatman
    222342 3

    What in God's earth would lead any of you to beleive that this wine is "exceptional". A couple of reviews (http://www.cellartracker.com/wine.a...) lead me to believe that this may be a really good tannat as opposed to an "exceptional" wine. In addition, the last tasting note is over 2 years old. Of the 15 Carraro wines reviewed, only 3 garnered 90 pts+. Many notes qualified these wines as "very good Brazilian wine". As I said before, let's agree that Lidio Carraro makes good wines but "wine of the year" - let's get real folks. Oh I forgot, most of us don't have a snowballs chance of ever tasting this wine unless you knw someone in the Brazilain wine industry and are willing to dole out 100 schekels.

    Oct 24, 2012 at 10:33 PM


  • Snooth User: GuiMarFon
    917797 47

    Here´s an idea: why don´t you accept this challenge and come to Brazil to see it for yourselves. Drink them and then say it´s all bulls**t. But don´t say it is not worth it before even knowing that there´s quality wine being made in Brazil.
    And we´ll have the World Cup after all, you can do it all at once!

    Oct 25, 2012 at 5:30 AM


  • I am sure that this is as big a conclusion as it is a surprise to many readers. And it begs the question: Why was France, Greece, Germany, Italy and to a lesser extent Spain, North Africa in small areas, Switzerland, Austria and countries further east where primarily the only counties making wine until the 17th century. When I say making wine I mean producing sufficient wine to export.

    Most of you grew up with the idea that much of the best wine came from France and Napa California. Some of you were lucky enough to know about South Africa and Australia but up to say 30 years ago the common believe in America was France and Napa were the places for fine red wine, and white but fine white wine also came from Germany. Then of course there was that classical Chianti and cheap red wine from Italy.

    So why are we being introduced to Chilean, Brazil, Argentinean wines. As well as wines from many different states in this country and other countries. How is it that these new places are developing very nice wines and in some cases wine to get very excited about. Why now and not 100 years ago?

    I do not want to go into a full history of wine making here. But perhaps my simple answer will interest many of you and give you a better perspective on why so many areas through out the world are now producing very good wine.

    If we travel back into the foggy history of time, we know that Arabs and Jews drank wine. That Greeks and Romans planted vines where ever they colonized and built towns and housed army troops. Grapes were a source of food granted but the wine they produced was also used as currency. Soldiers were often paid in wine as well as coin when coin was available. So wine was very much a item one could barter with.

    In the period after the Romans left England and Northern Europe, the lords and nobles who controlled most of the farm land, used wine to pay their household staff and domestic bills. The kings often paid their troops with wine and their own staff at each residency.

    This being the case you can understand by growing grapes was like having your own BANK. England had not the climate to grow acres of grapes in the 10 and 11th century, though there are records that indicate the some vineyards did exist the quantity was not nearly large enough for the church or the English king to rely on for the purpose of buying and then distributing as a form of payment in place of coin. So a lot of pressure was put on France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland to grow grapes and produce wine. This can be seen as well in Spain and Portugal as the royals there needed wine for their currency in may ways. Italy also fell under this pressure as the church paid its bills with wine whenever possible.

    So history shows that wine was a form of currency in Europe and countries like France, Germany, Spain and Italy with access to the seas, were able to export their wines to other countries much easier then their neighbors. Kings and nobles often placed duties on imported wines so that they could buy the wines sans duty making it much cheaper then the common man would pay for it once sold to the local market. This cheaper price allowed the kings and nobles to inflate the value of their wine holding and get much more for it in return then if they paid the same price as the common man paid. In England, history has many stories of duties being raised or new duties being imposed on imports into England because the king only had so much in coin to manage his affairs. As king he was not subject to paying any duties or taxes, so he was able to purchase at lower then market prices, the his wines for his cellars . As England was a great consumer of wine, France concentrated on exporting wine there which meant a growing demand for more vineyards. There were many Archbishops in England who loved Burgundy and so Burgundy well as wines from Loire and Bordeaux were often the wines found on the trading stall in London and a few other harbors permitted to import wines. I might add that Alsatian and German wines were popular in England but because of aging problems the reds were more popular to serve the function as currency.

    The French King and nobles also encourage growing vineyards as a vine was a bank for the Kind, nobles and the church. Thus you can understand why Europe was planting some much in the way of vines from the Roman days on. Many of those farms still exist to some extent and new ones followed the Roman farms. There was always an export market for wine from these farms. In other parts of the world, the demand for wine as there but only at the local level. Little would be exported to Europe in any meaningful quantity. We see that Australia and South Africa developed very nice wines and exported them but at a time when wine was no longer a currency as it once was with the rich, so those exports were for consumption only no longer a strong bartering tool. So even if South American wine makers were producing 2 or 3 hundred years ago, there was no large demand for their wines outside the local area or country. But the vines kept being cultivated and finer wines were being made. Voila today we given a chance to enjoy those wines.

    Now we come to the modern day, and we see good wines being produced through out the worlds with rumors that much more is to be expected. I would say that in the last 70 years are so, transportation has improved substantially. Exporters and Importers pay much more attention on how their wines are shipped and handled through the supply chain than say 40 years ago. The internet has pushed things along nicely as well as we can discover wine areas and learn about them when once such information was only known well locally. The access we have to wine growing regions throughout the world is going to cause an explosion much bigger than we had experienced so far. We are fortunate that people like Gregory has the means to travel and find exciting wines but it may be awhile before they are on our selves.

    Oct 25, 2012 at 11:39 AM


  • We want suggest you tast some more brazilian wines. Yesterday night we took 2 other brazilian merlots 2005 to compare with Lidio Carraro Grande Vindima 2005. Both of them were considered much more better.

    Oct 28, 2012 at 2:52 PM


  • Snooth User: Isaac42
    98135 26

    Sazonov wrote: "But part of the point was to praise and open up the discussion about Brazilian wine."

    Granted. But what is the point of discussing wines that we can't afford, and can't get, even if we can?

    GuiMarFon wrote: "Here´s an idea: why don´t you accept this challenge and come to Brazil to see it for yourselves."

    I'd love to, but, if I can't afford to drink $100 bottles of wine, I really can't afford much in the way of international travel, either. Buy me a ticket?

    Oct 29, 2012 at 9:58 PM


  • Snooth User: Angelica26
    1063840 3

    I don't understand all the prejudice against brazilian wines... This wine does deserve the honor. The $100 wine was only this special one. The others are a lot cheaper. This is really a piece of the sky. I will taste all of them and tell you all later.
    Did you all forget to be tolerant??? Lets keep having fun and doing what wine does the best, and celebrate! Thank you Gregory Dal Piaz!

    Nov 27, 2012 at 8:26 PM


  • As a winery owner in Uruguay (Artesana) where Tannat is the signature varietal and has been produced since the 1870s when it was brought from France, it's nice to see Tannat getting some recognition, although I'd prefer to see it going to a Uruguayan wine. There are many small producers making outstanding and award-winning Tannat and Tannat blends in the $20-$60 range. We are starting to see more Uruguayan wines here in the states as producers are beginning to focus on the U.S. market. So keep an eye out for these fabulous wines! http://www.artesanawinery.com

    Dec 15, 2012 at 5:36 PM


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