Saturday, June 12, 2010

Wine Boyz & World Cups

Today is the start of the 2010 World Cup being held in South Africa. Now I can't exactly say that I'm as passionate about my soccer as I am about my wine - particularly when Canada failed to qualify, yet again, for the world's favourite sporting tournament. But The World Cup does provide plenty of opportunities to for imaginative pairings of wine and soccer.

Unfortunately, for those of us following the tournament on the West coast of North America, I don't think there will be a lot of sipping back on wine while watching the games live. The games starting airing here at 4 or 5 a.m. and even the latest games of the day kick off at 11 a.m. I'm likely to neither still be up from a night of partying to carry on with drinking prior to "breakfast time" games, nor will I be opening many (any?) bottles - particularly during the work week - for the lunch hour.

That won't prevent us from finding ways to enjoy both wine and soccer over the next month though. And it started this evening when we called a Wine Boyz night. The World Cup only comes around once every four years and, lately, it seems that we haven't been calling in the gang for tastings much more regularly. I think our most recent gathering was last August. Sad.

But this was a great opportunity to meet and I thought an appropriate theme for the evening would be "red wine from any country participating in this year's tournament - for under $25, naturally." It was about as wide a theme as we've ever had - and, while we wouldn't be trying any Canadian wines, almost all the big guns in the wine making world also seem to have a bent for soccer. Italy, Argentina, France, U.S., Australia, South Africa, Chile. The list goes on.

As usual, all the wines were brought to the house in brown bags and they were numbered and decanted by a non-drinker so that none of the participants would know what they were tasting - or which wine was their's. Since everyone would be picking their most and least favourites of the evening, we don't want any pre-conceived notions floating around.

We had a full slate of eight wines for tasting tonight, but we actually started off with a meet and greet wine while we waited for everyone to arrive. I figured it was only fitting that kick the evening off with celebration of the South African tournament.

470. 2009 Nederburg Limited Edition twenty10 Dry Rose (W.O. Western Cape - South Africa)

Nederburg has created a limited edition of three FIFA sanctioned wines to commemorate the arrival of the World Cup on the African continent. There's a Cab Sauv, a Sauv Blanc and this Rose which is also made completely from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. A Cab Sauv Rose would be a pretty rare product in our neck of the woods. If a BC winery can ripen Cab Sauv grapes, they inevitably go into a varietal or Bordeaux blend wine. Despite the use of a different - and big - varietal, the wine was still fresh and full of red fruit. I don't think anyone was shouting out "Goooooooooooal!" after sipping it, but it was a fine start to the night.

Unfortunately, in a subsequent cleaning frenzy, Boo threw out all our notes and "scoring" sheets. As a result, I don't have all the final scores after we all ranked the wines from first to last and tallied the scores. I still remember what the first three choices were and what the least favourite of the evening was - however, there wasn't a single wine that didn't have at least one admirer and, except for the two most popular sips, the total scores were pretty darned close.

I can list the three favourites in order, but after that, I don't know how we ranked the wines except for the bottle pulling up the rear.

471. 2005 Sabor Real - Vinas Centenarias (D.O. Toro - Spain)

A clear fave with this crowd. Out of the six voting participants, it received four first place votes and two second place votes. I was quite intrigued when we unveiled this as the favourite wine of the night. I had purchased this bottle after we thoroughly enjoyed the Sabor Real "entry level" wine last Christmas (#289). This makes two wines in a row for this producer; we've obviously hit upon a winemaker that meets our collective palate - and then some.

472. 2006 Bodegas Mahler-Besse - Taja Monastrell (D.O. Jumilla - Spain)

This bottle received the other two first place votes and it was probably the best bargain of the evening. Whereas the Sabor Real was $25, this bottle was only $12 - and in this city, that's a very reasonable price point. It's not a general listing at our government liquor stores though. It was picked up at Marquis Wine Cellars but they're now all but sold out. Too bad.

473. 2009 Bodega Renacer - Punta Final Malbec (Argentina)

I was also pleased to see that this wine was favourably reviewed. Renacer was one of the wineries that I'd enjoyed discovering at this year's Vancouver Playhouse Festival.

I don't recall the actual order of the next four bottles; however, there wasn't a whole lot of difference in their point rankings. A move up or down by one or two points might have completely changed any order in any event.

474. 2008 Clos de los Siete (Mendoza - Argentina)

475. 2006 Franco Molino Nebbiolo (Langhe Nebbiolo DOC - Italy)

476. 2008 J.P. Chenet Premier de Cuvee - Merlot/Cabernet (Vin de Pays d'Oc - France)

477. 2007 Chateau de Paraza Cuvee Speciale (AOC Minervois - France)

2006 Bodegas La Milagrosa Milcampos Tempranillo (D.O. Ribera del Duero - Spain)

I don't get to give a number for The List to the last Spanish wine. Not because it was the bottle garnering the lowest number of points among our tasters, but rather because we already added it to The List back in January (#332). I was really quite surprised to find that it was our least favourite because I recall quite enjoying that earlier bottle.

The funny thing about the bottle though was that Arty400 brought it. The poor boy has been cursed with his limited participation with the Wine Boyz. The first two bottles that RD4 brought to the table were corked. Tonight, it was the least favoured. Methinks he's never going to come by again. At least, the bottle wasn't corked tonight.

During the evening, we'd picked up some of the neighbours who were drinking in the streets. (Yes, we have a fun neighbourhood.) The Shameless Hussy and her Rock God stopped in and then Red and Marquis paid us a visit as well. As such, we figured another bottle would make a fine addition to the mix. I'd picked up a sparkler as well since this was a celebration - plus it provides another addition to both The List and my Wine Century Club efforts.

478. Luis Pato - Maria Gomes Bruto Vinho Espumante (Portugal)

I'd tried one of the Luis Pato wines last summer (#163) and was pleasantly surprised; so, I figured it might be fun to have another Portugese bubbly on hand. After all, Portugal is one of the faves heading into the World Cup. I think our tasting capabilities might have been a tad suspect by this time however. Suffice it to say that I think we'd all be happy to pop one of these corks should Portugal have a long run for the Cup.

All in all, it was a great little start to all the soccer madness to come. It was interesting to see that our selection of wines was so Euro-centric and that Spain led the way with our top two picks. Is this an omen for the tournament to come? And why no Aussies or South African wines?

We ended the tasting on a fun note that will continue into the next month. My niece, Skeletor, was around to play drawmaster and pick the line up of countries that will go head to head in our World Cup of Wine - but that's a whole other set of postings and this one's getting way too long. Until then, I think I better work on making sure that the Wine Boyz don't take so long to meet up again because this was a hoot.

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