Flores da Cunha e Nova Pádua conquer the third Precedence Indication of Brazil
Sílvia Mascella Rosa
In the afternoon of the 4th February 2013 under a Brazilian bright blue sky between green grapevines, decorated by a unique beauty of bunches of grapes, was officially opened the grape harvest in the city of Flores da Cunha, in Serra Gaúcha. And as if that was not enough the fact that the day be a cinematic perfection, the city celebrated a harvest of high-quality with the news of recognition by the INPI (National Industrial Property Institute) the application of Geographical Indication for its fine wines. The region of Altos Montes – covering the municipalities of Flores da Cunha and Nova Pádua – thus becomes the third region to win the indication of origin, after Vale dos Vinhedos (granted to the Designation of Origin condition last year) and Pinto Bandeira.
The process went quickly because of the experience of those involved in the previous applications, which made the studies taken to the authorities with more accurate information: “Our project has reached INPI the most complete, as we now know from the experiences of other regions, there is a good sharing among winemakers – which goes against the impression that they work on opposite sides as competitors -., and so the analysis and research were faster delivered at the time of the request (in March last year) and to be accepted it took less than a year, “explains Deunir Argenta, president of the Association of Producers of Fine Wines of Altos Montes, the Apromontes and partner in wine Luiz Argenta.
The former president of the organization, Paulo Tonet (member of the winery Terrasul) explains that almost since the founding of Apromontes in 2002, he already had a desire to work on differentiating the region. So, a few years later he began a mapping of the lands and properties that were producing fine grapes (both cities are the largest producers of grapes from all over the state of Rio Grande do Sul, adding thin, hybrid and table grapes) . “Preliminary studies have shown us that we actually have the potential to produce quality, worthy of an IP. So the association decided to use the application now well supported and aiming to show the quality of the final product,” adds Tonet .
To get to the point of completing the order of indication of origin, the set of multiple entities work was essential and the openness and availability of the eleven members of Apromontes to show their processes and production methods. Altogether, the project mobilized a team of 15 researchers from various institutions.
Project for approval of the IP Altos Montes ran faster due to the expertise of those involved
Reconverting the story
The municipality of Flores da Cunha with its just over 27,000 people has produced grapes for living of thousands of families since ancient times from the beginning of Italian immigration to the country. In past decades, most of this production was sold to bottlers in other states and cities as Jundiaí and São Roque, in the State of São Paulo. Until now the production is still very attached to the table grapes and common wines, the source of living and investments of most winemakers in the city. But the market also gradually begins to change: “4 or 5 years ago we sold in bulk about 12 million liters of table wine. Today it does not reach the 40 %. Another factor is the price per liter of table wine. It’s almost the same kilogram of grape, around R $ 0.90,” says Volmar Salvador, partner of Terrasul , winery that has undergone enormous changes in recent years, also designed to adapt to the rules of IP . The vineyards of fine grapes in the city of Pinheiro Machado, in the Campanha Gaúcha, which already belong to the company, others will be aggregated within the limits of IP in the cities of Flores da Cunha and Nova Pádua. The company’s goal is to have upscale wines that can display the seal of geographical indication and encourage grape growers in the region. “Fine wine adds value and grape growers need to be aware of it,” adds Salvador .
By the way, this is a major goal of Apromontes in the coming years: convincing some of the table grapes producers to convert their vineyards for fine grapes, lowering productivity per hectare and valuing local terroir. As there are almost 2000 (registered) winegrowing properties in the region, working with fine and table grapes, the process can take a longtime. “There is a very serious internal work to be done in order to convert the vineyards with our producers. Fortunately, members are already well aligned in relation to this. Now in possession of the IP, we have the best arguments to convince winemakers to invest further in the vineyards, ” says President Deunir Argenta.
According to regulations, the dry sparkling (white or rosé) may contain only Riesling Italico, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Trebbiano. For the sweet ones, varieties of Moscato are accepted White, Giallo, Alexandria, Clone R2, beyond the Malvasia grape.
Separation of wort
The high quality of the last three harvest (2011, 2012 and 2013) also serves as an argument for the owners of wineries (many winemakers) to demand from producers improvements on raw material grapes: “We need to make the winemakers understand that the asset of IP will be in our hands. We have a prime spot that recent harvests were really special and if everything continues as it is now, 2013 will be a huge success. We cannot allow any of that get lost by not doing what is necessary,” emphasizes Paul Tonet.
The vineyards of the region are part of the Serra Gaúcha in northeast of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, and the enclosed area of IP Altos Montes encompasses 174 continuous miles, the two municipalities of Flores da Cunha and Nova Pádua. In geological terms, the area has volcanic rocks, including basalts, rhyolites, and clay soils. The name “Altos Montes” is justified by the average elevation of vineyards, 678 meters above sea level, with a peak crop nearing the 900 meters. “At these altitudes and the wide temperature range of the region (in summer temperatures range between 10 degrees and 32 degrees), gets high ripening grapes without losing acidity. Thus we have, for example, great potential to produce sparkling mature and complex wines by traditional methods, “says winemaker Daniel Salvador.
Working in order to convert the vineyards are among the priorities of the region
He who is vice president and partner of Apromontes, winery that bears his name, now has the tough task of chairing the Regulatory Council of the entity responsible for compliance with regulatory control that defines the IP.
He reports five wineries (which 11of them belong to Apromontes) will have wines that bear the seal of IP at a first moment. Only 14 labels from the 2012 harvest. These wines have gone through analysis tasting of Board members, Embrapa and the Brazilian Association of Enology (ABE). “Around April and May there will be tasting, testing and certification of products for 2013. At harvest, the number of certified wines should double due to better preparation of the wineries on sending samples,” says Salvador.
Some of the rules to which the wine growers have to adapt themselves are the ones that delimit, for example, the grapes with which the wine can be made. Red wines can be Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Ancellotta, Refosco, Marselan or Tannat. White ones with Riesling Italico, Malvasia of Candia, Chardonnay, Moscato Giallo, Sauvignon Blanc or Gewurztraminer. Rosé wines should be Pinot Noir or Merlot and Dry sparkling wines (white or rosé) may contain only Riesling Italico, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Trebbiano. For sweet sparkling wines, varieties of Moscato are accepted White, Giallo, Alexandria, Clone R2 beyond Malvasia grapes.
To ensure the typicality at least 85% of the grapes used must be from the area delimited and the productivity of grapevines white and red to dry and sparkling wines may not exceed 10 tons per hectare (in some cases is only 8 tons). The exception is the Moscato grapes, which can have a productivity of 13 tons / hectare. All wines must be produced, aged and bottled within the defined area and, finally, every batch of wine will need to be crawled under the control of the Regulatory Council of the IP and no wine may go to the market without pass through the commission tasting that assesses blindly the quality of the product.
Source: Revista Adega