Rugby: its part in re-awakening my Age of Discovery

In 2011 we had 6 weeks of the Rugby World Cup.

Argentinas wine areas are vast and largely wild

I had taken my eye off the ball and the New World snook through, scored through a massive try and converted itself into something altogether more interesting. Ouch.

Prior, in 2011 I began to take a more balanced look at New World wines through my job (someone has to do it). It’s true: take your eye off the ball and it slips through your fingers. Well, I have to admit that I did take my eye off New World wines for a few years. Maybe it was because I lived in it for 6 years (New Zealand). But I had just become so disappointed by overblown, over-extracted fruit-burst flavours, overwhelming my senses and being, for me, a little one dimensional. (There’s still plenty of that type of wine around and some of it comes from the Old world too now, but that’s for another piece.)

Argentina wines are strong, like their pack

In the lead up to the Rugby World Cup I had noted that many of the nations were wine growing countries. hey pretty much always are apart from the British and Pacific Islanders. Always on the look out for an excuse to play wine into any occasion, my imagination ran away with me and before I knew it I had drunk a lot of wine and come up with 3 mixed cases that I wanted to promote during The Finals, despite Rugby seeming to have beer consuming followers, pretty much, in exclusivity. For me the stand out Rugby teams of 2011 were Wales, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina. And the wines from those countries (including Wales! See below) also noticeably raised my interest levels, despite my Old World leanings.

Either that, or my palate had changed…which is probably also part of the story (but doesn’t add to this allegory so I’ll deal with that another time). Remember Italy play rugby. And France. And Australia. And even the US. All major wine producers. Only the Spanish are missing from this list, and the Germans, maybe.

We know who came, who saw and who conquered on the rugby field but just what is going on on the international Vinicultural playing field? would NZ be run a close second by France?

Here is something interesting…and another example of what happens when the eye is taken off the ball.

From Wikipedia: “It was an outstanding year for English and Welsh wines at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) 2011 as organisers revealed the results on the first day of the London International Wine Fair (LIWF). Wales celebrated a Silver medal while 66 English wines from 22 vineyards picked up awards or were commended. Two Gold medals awarded to two English vineyards made the UK national headlines while a Silver medal for the Parva Farm vineyard’s Tintern Parva Bacchus 2009 went back to the principality. Fourteen other wines won Silver medals while 20 won Bronze medals. Commendations were given to 30 wines. Denbies Wine Estate’s Chalk Ridge Rosé 2010 was the only still Rosé to win a 2011 Gold Medal and Chapel Down was awarded a Gold Medal for its sparkling Rosé Vintage Reserve Brut NV.”

mission impossible revisited

It all sounds like the Judgement of Paris and Groundhog Day in one. I expect if you ask a Frenchman, they will shrug and never speak of it again. Bit like the national side’s performances all the way to the Rugby World Cup Final, where several mediocre attempts got them through before they then went on to play out of their skins. Their staring down the All Black Haka is now fixed into sporting lore. Few eventually will recall the previous few weeks’ of embarrassment or the fact that they actually lost the final game. But great, great spin doctoring and gravitas, all the same. All about presentation: Style over substance?

Back to the glorious rise of English Wines. It is quite a while since I ventured around the English vineyards of Somerset (mid 1990’s), and I have been away from the UK since 2002 (and all that goes with that) so I was astounded at such a surge in UK wine growing success. Global warming seems to be at the root of the success. It’s also cited to be affecting Californian sugar levels too leading to some anxious wineries. Another 2 debates perhaps to explore further in the fullness of time…

Have you tried English or Welsh wine recently? I would love to hear about it. Let us know your thoughts. Did you rate it? Who knows, one day we may even be able to get our hands on some of those award winning English Sparkling wines in China. Could be a bit of a scrum…

We celebrated the Rugby event with 3 mixed cases that have since been re-named to describe what they are…and expanded a tad here and there.

Some of the stand out wines from those ‘rugby case’s (for me) were:

After the championship I re-branded the cases. Here are the results.

RWC12A (12 btls; tier 1 & 2; 4 old + 8 new world) morphed into Taster Pack 3. These are now whizzing out of the door as word gets around about how varied the TP3 is : 12 wines from 7 countries born of 5 continents, 3 from the Old World and 9 from the New.

RWC6B (6 btls; tier 1 & 2 wines; 2 old + 4 new world) was renamed Classy White Pack Its had a Spring Clean which involved an upgrade to 12 bottles and an amalgamation with the also popular 6 bottle pack: ‘Second Tier Whites’ (also now defunct), to produce a mega mix of 12 distinctive lovelies of a cornucopia of style.

RWC6C (6 btls tier 1 & 2; 2 old + 4 new world) became the insanely popular 6 Fine Reds. Now a top seller in the mixed cases format with a 50/50 split between New & Old worlds. No plans to change this to a 12 bottle pack yet.

Lotta fun, investigative writing.

The Wine Man

April 2012


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