One of the questions I got asked most often was “How was the wine?” But in truth I didn’t drink a single glass in the four days we were in Rio. It is actually quite difficult to get around Rio without a car. Public transport is patchy and if you are staying in somewhere like Copocabana, as we were so lucky to do so, you are isolated from a lot of the night life, including restaurants and bars. Copocabana itself has plenty of eating places and cafes, but everything is squarely aimed at the tourists, so the safest thing is to do what the locals do and drink caiprinhas, or beer, or both.
I stupidly ordered a Coke in one restaurant, assuming that I was ordering sparkling mineral water (should have checked the translation), but for the most part the beer was fairly average and the caiprinhas varied.
It was only on my way out of the country, we had a lengthy wait for our flight out, that I stumbled across a selection of Brazilian wines (like, two) and a whole shelf of premium Uruguayan ones in one of the last duty free stores inside the secure area after checking in for our flight. The local wines just looked bad – I was not going to waste a considerable sum on the equivalent of jug or cask wine in a bottle, no, not carrying that back all the way in my hand luggage.
I did buy one of the overpriced Tannats from Uruguay. Not sure when to / who with to open it, but I am assuming it is pretty smart. One never knows with duty free stores.
But, just as I had given up and had backtracked a store or two, I glimpsed a dump stack of Domaine Chandon and a sign stating that it was on promotion, $22 USD a bottle and though I had tasted this a long, long, long time ago, I just had to buy it.
Domain Chandon Brut (Non Vintage)
The cork was quite compressed, a solid plug, so I am guessing this was an old bottle, disgorged a long time ago. Not a bad thing, though, the wine had a good bead, was fresh and lively on the nose, delicate citrus and honey notes, but the deal maker was the palate. This is a relatively light, crisp style, the fruit restrained and subtle, but that age had made the wine creamy and succulent, definitely a light, aperitif style, but with good concentration and no hard edges. I would have found it difficult picking the origin on this in a blind tasting, it tasted very cool climate, tight and restrained, and yet had that round, creamy mid palate. Lovely stuff – I only wish that I had bought more. [Maybe we can convince Moet Hennessy NZ to ship a few cases in?]