World Cup of Wine

In a few short months the eyes of the world will be focused on South Africa for soccer’s biggest global skirmish – the World Cup.  But why wait until then to start the fun?!

Last week saw the beginning of the World Cup of Wine as Bibendum Wine, one of London’s most prominent wholesalers, invited food and wine bloggers to taste, compare and evaluate wines from several of the countries who will be participating this summer: Chile, Italy, France, USA, Spain, Australia, Argentina and of course, South Africa.

Upon arrival we were given a lovely, fruity, refreshing glass of Graham Beck sparkling rose which got the evening off to a great start! Then it was down to business!

Round 1: Chile vs Italy

The Chileans got off to a bad start with the Agustinos Reserva Privada Chardonnay which was disappointingly alcoholic and lacking any complexity, so Italy took the first goal with a biodynamnic blend, the Lageder Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio which was much more interesting, although not my personal style, nevertheless, not a bad wine.

The second half saw the Valdivieso Cabernet Franc from Chile’s Colchagua Valley go head to head with the Ceppaiano ‘Violetta’ from Tuscany. I was hoping to see Chile make up for a poor first half and was optimistic as I’m a fan of Cab Franc, but sadly, it wasn’t to be.  The wine was disjointed – the oak, acidity and fruit were all there, but completely out of sync with each other, so again Italy were victorious. In fairness to Chile though, it would have been hard to beat the ‘Violetta’! A simply stunning wine: very obviously Sangiovese with classically cherry aromas, grippy tannins that were harmonious with zesty acidity and the fruit was enduring – just beautiful.

Winner Round 1: Italy

Round 2: France vs California

Some of you may have heard about the famous tasting that took place in 1976 called ‘The Judgment of Paris’ in which French and Californian wines were tasted blind to once and for all, decide which country made the best wines – well, much to France’s surprise, they lost (and have continued to do so in subsequent tastings). Well, France would have been much happier with our outcome!

As much as I was obviously pulling for the California wines, they didn’t show well. The Loredona Pinot Grigio from Monterey was inoffensive and fruity, but hardly a contender for World domination, whereas the Chateau Bonnet Reserve from Entre-deux-Mers, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon with a touch of Muscadet, was very approachable with zingy citrus fruit, although slightly overpriced, it took the prize.

The Marmesa Syrah from California’s Central Coast started the second half well with an intense nose of fruit and spice, while the palate was silky, juicy and perfectly structured, but it couldn’t stand up to the Elys Pyreneus, Les Hauts de l’Agly from the Cotes du Roussillon Villages. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, it was a serious crowdpleaser and the perfect wine for a dinner party as it appeals to many different palates. There is a wide range of quality to be found in this region, but this wine is a great example of just how good they can be.

Winner Round 2: France

Round 3: Argentina vs South Africa

As many of you know, I am a fan of South African wines so I was excited for this round, but also a bit anxious as there are many incredible wines from Argentina, but on this day, South Africa shone.

The Saam Mountain Chenin Blanc from Paarl tied for my highest score of the evening. There was beautiful richness from the use of oak which came across as nutty and mouthfilling – delectable!  The Argento Torrontes from Salta was very floral and easy-drinking, but simply couldn’t stand up to the power of the Chenin.

The second half nearly saw an upset as the Argentinian Vinedos de la Posada Merlot from La Rioja outscored the Journey’s End ‘The Cape Doctor’ Shiraz from Stellenbosch. The Merlot began very fruity, almost sweet, but quickly morphed into a wine of substance, while the Shiraz had enticing aromas, only to disappoint on with a lacklustre palate.

Winner Round 3: South Africa

Round 4:  Spain vs Australia

We forged ahead into the fourth and final round excited to see if Australia could pull off a win to tie the series between Old World and New World – and we weren’t let down.

Rueda’s Cuatro Rayas Verdejo was a lovely example of this steely, zingy wine, but took a beating from the D’Arenberg ‘The Hermit Crab’ Viognier, Marsanne from McLaren Vale which was full-bodied and oily on the palate with fresh peaches and apricots and a never-ending finish.

Finally we were into the last round and curious to see how the reds would compete – safe to say, it was a nail biter!  The Tabula, Damana 5 from Ribera del Duero had supple fruit and easy tannins and would be the perfect accompaniment to all sorts of different dishes. I particularly took a liking to it as the aroma that struck me most was that of Milk Bone! My dog would have loved it!  However, the Katnook Founders Block Shiraz from Coonawarra put up an excellent fight and was a classic example of Shiraz with lovely spicy fruit and a weighty, rich mouthfeel.  A knock-down drag-out to be sure, but in the end Australia eeked out a victory.

Winner Round 4: Australia

I am already looking forward to the semi-finals which are to be held on May 13!  I’d like to give a big thank you to everyone at Bibendum for arranging these tastings, especially Gal, Erica and Gareth.  Great job guys!  See you next month!

There’s always time for wine!

Tara – Wine Passionista

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave A Reply (3 comments so far)

  1. zoharwine
    8 years ago

    Hi Tara,
    Thanks for the lovely post, a very pleasant wine indeed and a bit of suspense as well.

    Looking forward to seeing you next month, or sooner…


  2. Erica
    8 years ago

    Hi Tara

    Thank you so much for coming and great post. I agree whatever Chile put forward was never going to match up to the ‘Violetta’ a really sublime wine. I think California could have taken on France but the Pinot Grigio just let it down a bit.

    Any way it will be interesting to see what happens at the semis (also far more interesting than the real football world cup).


  3. Janette Hathaway
    8 years ago

    Haha I am actually the first comment to this amazing read!?

Get your Free Food & Wine Pairing Guide!

Food & Wine Pairing Guide

Download a free guide to food & wine pairing! Print it out, stick it on your kitchen wall and you'll be on your way to mouthwatering matchmaking!

* indicates required

Recap of Episode 9 of The Punch Down with guest: Clark Smith

Clark Smith on The Punch Down

For Episode 9 of the Punch Down, we talk wine 'manipulations' with author, educator, winemaker, musician, consultant, Vinovation founder and, yes, wine iconoclast Clark Smith! (And yes, he brought his guitar!)

Twitter: tara_devon

Every Wine Tells a Story

Every Wine Tells a Story

39 wine lovers tell their personal stories of the one wine that knocked their socks off!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.