Pinto Bandeira, The First Sparkling Wine Denomination of Origin Outside Europe

Pinto Bandeira is a grape, and wine-producing region located in Serra Gaúcha, in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. In 2012, the producers requested the area become the first sparkling wine appellation of origin in Brazil and the New World.

It took more than 10 years, but Pinto Bandeira producers can celebrate. The region’s sparkling wines have been granted the status of Denomination of Origin, the first exclusively for sparkling wines from outside Europe.

What Is a Denomination of Origin?

The denomination of origin is a certification granted to a geographical region that stands out for its products’ quality and unique characteristics. Producers must follow strict rules regarding the production, cultivation, and processing of grapes to obtain this certification.

Aerial view of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil showcasing its diverse landscape and natural beauty.

Aerial view of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil showcasing its diverse landscape and natural beauty. | Image Source

All about Altos de Pinto Bandeira DO

The Pinto Bandeira denomination of origin certification for sparkling wines is an important recognition for the region and its producers, who can now use this seal to highlight the quality and authenticity of their sparkling wines. This also helps promote tourism in the region and increases Brazil’s visibility as a producer of quality wines.

Pinto Bandeira is a region known for its excellent and humid climate. It is ideal for growing grapes for sparkling wines. In addition, the soils are rich in granite and basalt, which gives the grapes a distinct minerality.

The region covers 65 km in the towns of Pinto Bandeira, Farroupilha, and Bento Gonçalves, all in Rio Grande do Sul. The DO has an average altitude of 632 meters above sea level but comprises several undulations that generate unique microclimates.

In this region, the aim is to select grapes with the appropriate degree of ripeness, specifically to produce the best ‘base wines’ for sparkling wines, which need to have a lower alcohol content and higher acidity than that of ‘still wines’, ensuring the necessary freshness in the sparkling wines of the Altos de Pinto Bandeira DO.

To receive the seal, the wineries, besides being located in the demarcated region, will have to produce their sparkling wines with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and/or Riesling Italico grapes, which must be from vineyards cultivated using the espalier method.

Wine production was also regulated. Sparkling wines must be produced using the traditional method, or champenoise, with at least 12 months of aging. They may be Nature, Extra-Brut, Brut, Sec, or Demi-Sec.

Check Out the General Rules Below:

  • Authorized grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling Italico, and the vineyards must be cultivated exclusively in the delimited geographical area.
  • Origin of the grapes: the grapes must be cultivated 100% in the delimited geographical area of the DO Altos de Pinto Bandeira.
  • Conduction System:
  • Productivity: maximum limit per hectare of 12t/ha. Mechanical harvest is forbidden for the grapes destined for the DO, which must also present more than 14º degrees.
  • Elaboration: sparkling wines with DO can only be elaborated by the Traditional Method with more than 12 months of aging. As for residual sugar, the classes Nature, Extra-Brut, Brut, Sec, and Demi-Sec are authorized.
  • Enological Processes: The use of oak barrels is allowed in the first fermentation and in the base wine for sparkling wine. To have the DO, the second fermentation in the bottle is necessary.
  • The base wines for sparkling wines must be a maximum of five years old, counting from the end date of the respective grape harvest.
  • Different vintages of base wines for sparkling wine are allowed in the blends as long as the authorized varieties are used. In the cuts, the base wine of Riesling Italico will have a maximum percentage of 25% of the final product’s volume.
  • Vintage Sparkling Wines: Sparkling wines from the Altos de Pinto Bandeira DO can be vintage and must contain at least 85% of the base wine of the previous vintage.
  • Labeling: The main label must contain the identification of the geographical name of the DO, followed by the expression Denomination of Origin. The labeling must also include the numbered Seal of Control, specifying the number of the lot and the respective bottle of the lot.

The History of Sparkling Wines in Brazil

The history of sparkling wines in Brazil began in the 20th century when Italian and French immigrants started to plant grapes and produce wines in the country’s south. However, it was only in the last decades that Brazilian sparkling wines began to be recognized as quality wines.

In the 1970s, some wineries began to produce sparkling wines using the Charmat method, which involves a second fermentation in large stainless steel tanks rather than in the bottle. This method produces fresher and fruitier sparkling wines but with less complexity than sparkling wines made traditionally.

In the 1990s, Brazilian producers began to invest in the traditional method, also known as “champenoise,” which is the same method used in the Champagne region in France. This method involves a second fermentation in the bottle, which gives the sparkling wine a creamy texture and delicate bubbles. Brazilian sparkling wines produced by this method have gained international recognition and attracted the attention of critics and sommeliers.

Today, Brazil is one of the world’s leading producers of sparkling wines, with producing regions all over the country, but mainly in Serra Gaúcha, in Rio Grande do Sul, where the DO Altos de Pinto Bandeira is located.

Foreign Investments in Brazilian Sparkling Wine

Champagne Bottlers of Moet and Chandon

Champagne Bottlers of Moet and Chandon

There has been an increase in foreign investment in the production of sparkling wines in Brazil in recent years. This is largely due to the growing international recognition of Brazilian sparkling wines’ quality.

One of the most notable examples of foreign investment in the Brazilian sparkling wine industry is the acquisition of the Chandon Brasil winery by French giant LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) in 2009. The winery Chandon Brasil, located in the region of Garibaldi in Serra Gaúcha, is one of the country’s main producers of sparkling wines. The acquisition allowed LVMH to expand its presence in the Brazilian wine market.

Another example is the acquisition of the Salton winery by the Japanese beverage company Suntory in 2019. Salton is one of the oldest wineries in Brazil and is known for producing high-quality sparkling wines. The acquisition by Suntory allows the Japanese company to expand its presence in the Brazilian wine market and enhance its expertise in sparkling wine production.

In addition, several other foreign companies have invested in sparkling wine production in Brazil in recent years, including companies from France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Argentina.

These foreign investments help drive development and innovation in the Brazilian sparkling wine industry and bring new technologies and knowledge to the country. This also helps to increase the visibility and international recognition of Brazilian sparkling wines, which benefits the entire wine industry in the country.

The Success of Brazilian Sparkling Wines in the World

In recent years, Brazilian sparkling wines have achieved increasing success internationally, receiving praise and awards in wine competitions worldwide. Some of the reasons why Brazilian sparkling wines are gaining international recognition include the following:

Quality: Brazilian sparkling wines have increasingly won praise for their quality, which is a result of investment in technology, advanced viticultural practices, and strict quality control at all stages of the production process.

Diversity: Brazil has a great diversity of grapes and terroirs, which means that Brazilian wineries can produce a wide variety of sparkling wines with different styles and flavors.

Affordability: Unlike other sparkling wines of similar quality, Brazilian sparkling wines often offer a more affordable price, making them an attractive option for consumers worldwide.

International recognition: with awards and accolades in wine competitions worldwide, Brazilian sparkling wines are gaining a growing international reputation as high-quality wines.

In 2018, Wine Spectator magazine highlighted a Brazilian sparkling wine among the top 100 wines in the world, which was a significant milestone for the Brazilian wine industry. In addition, Brazilian wineries have been winning awards in important wine competitions, such as the Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine Challenge.

In 2002, the Brazilian winery Miolo won the gold medal in the sparkling wine category in the international wine competition Effervescent du Monde, held in Dijon, France. This was an important milestone for the sparkling wine industry in Brazil, which became internationally recognized as a producer of quality wines.

In summary, Brazilian sparkling wines are gaining increasing success in the international market, with a combination of quality, and diversity.

Want to read more? Try these books!

Wine- Everything you ever wanted to know about red, white, rosé & fizz Rosé- Understanding the pink wine revolution (Classic Wine Library)

Categories: Country Profiles, This Day in Wine History | ArticlesTags: , , By Published On: June 27, 2023Last Updated: February 29, 2024

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