Friday, June 13, 2014

Let The Games Begin!

The World Cup has kicked off in Brazil and I suspect my life is going to be rather soccer-centric for the next month - not that I really have that much invested in the event this time around. Once again, our Canadian team has been left on the sidelines, but I do have the office pool to get excited about. And, I suspect that living just off The Drive, in Vancouver's old Little Italy, will see its share of celebration in the street. The size of the celebrations will definitely depend on which teams stay in the race and for how long. Historically, street closures are only needed for the biggest of wins by countries like Italy and Portugal - countries with plenty of ex-pats and presence on The Dive - and superpowers like Brazil and Argentina.

I just realized that, for the last World Cup in 2010, I held a little World Cup of Wine for the blog. That approach of matching the event to the blog totally slipped my mind in the build up to this year's tournament; so, there ain't gonna be anything so adventurous this time around. (Guess I must have had more time on my hands back then.) I think the best I'll manage with this World Cup is to pull the corks on bottles from countries that are playing that day.

Today's opening game is Brazil vs. Croatia. There's only one Brazilian wine available in the Vancouver market and I've already popped the cork on that Moscato bubbly and added the wine to The List. Guess there won't be much celebrating with Brazilian wines this tournament. Alternatively, I'd hoped to find a Croatian wine - because I know they make lots - but I couldn't find a single bottle in the three shops that I dropped by, including the specialty government store.

So much for the grand plan. As an alternative option, I decided to open a Spanish bottle seeing as how Spain is the defending champion and is entering this World Cup as one of the favourites. I know that Spanish wines are certainly a favourite around this household.

1627.  2003 Bodegas Roda - Roda I Reserva (Rioja DOC - Spain)

I'm thinking that the Spanish Soccer Federation spares no expense when it comes to the national team. I get the impression that the same is true of Bodegas Roda. Founded only in 1987, the winery is part of the new wave in Spanish wine. Knowing that they were setting up shop in a region that was awash in traditional wineries, partners Mario Rotllant and Carmen Daurella set out with an objective to attain a premium expression that reflected the tradition of Rioja, yet in a modern style.

They started by obtaining - by either purchase or long-term contact - 28 vineyards throughout Rioja. In their quest to make only the finest wines, each year, the grapes from only 17 of those vineyards - deemed the best in that vintage - are used in making the winery's two Reserva wines: Roda and Roda I. The rest of the grapes are sold to other wineries.

The grapes from each of those 17 vineyards are all vinified and aged independently. At the time of blending, they, therefore, have 17 different wines available, each having spent a year in the barrel. Only varieties indigenous to the region - Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano - are grown in the vineyards; however, only Tempranillo is used in making the Roda I.

The new venture was noticed for bringing modern techniques into both the vineyard and the winery - such as introducing Rioja's first sorting table, vinifying the wines in temperature controlled oak vats and ageing them in 100% French oak barrels. With the two Reserva wines, Roda is noted for lots of red berry fruit that is meant for immediate enjoyment, whereas Roda I features blacker fruit and a deeper, more complex nose and mouthfeel.

I wouldn't say that our Roda I hits some of the in-your-face standards of fruit and mouthfeel that some New World wines do, but that can be a good thing. I'll liken it to strategy on the soccer pitch. If you put all your energy into your attacking game, you might find yourself suspect in the defensive half. I like that the winery has straddled both New and Old World sentiments - both offence and defence, if you will. Now, let's see if the Spanish team can match the result at the World Cup.

If they do so, we could be drinking a lot of Spanish wine over the next so many weeks.

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