Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Quarter-Final B-day


The second of our World Cup of Wine quarter-finals sees Argentina go up against France. Luckily for France, they didn't have to meet Argentina on the soccer field because the French definitely would have had their hands full. They've been a disappointment on the field - not even making it out of the preliminary round, let alone to the quarter-finals. Argentina has to be sitting as one of the favourites in South Africa; they've been spanking the competition so far.

We've actually got some help on tonight's taste-off. It's Elzee's b-day and she's invited us over for dinner at her place. Given her family background, our drinking buddies might have been a touch more excited if we'd been opening an Italian wine tonight. Somehow, I think that just might have skewed the voting preferences a bit.

We arrived a bit later than the rest of the guests and, in celebration of another birthday, they'd opened a bottle with a bit of fizz to get things started.

506. NV Wolf Blass Yellow Label Sparkling Brut (Australia)

Wolf Blass is certainly one of the best known names in the Australian wine business - if not everywhere, then at least in Vancouver. As much as I've heard his name and had his wines over the years, I don't recall ever hearing that he got his start in Aussie wine making sparkling wines in the Barossa in 1961, having been recruited from Germany, in part, because of his knowledge of the charmant method of making bubbly wines.

The charmant method generally lends itself to more reasonable prices when it comes to sparkling wines and the Yellow Label is certainly an example of that - clocking in with a $15 price tag. While completely dry, there's a bit more citrus and not as much yeasty tones on the palate - which is another aspect that could make it more approachable to many sippers that aren't so used to actual methode champenoise wines.

However, this is just a bonus wine for The List. We're here for a World Cup match (of course, as a secondary activity to Elzee's b-day).

507. 2007 Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 (AOC Cotes du Rhone - France)

508. 2007 Bodega Vistalba Tomero Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza - Argentina)

This was probably the closest of all the taste-offs yet. Both wines were thoroughly enjoyed by all the guests - and no one jumped to an immediate conclusion as to which wine was favoured. Both were nicely balanced, with nice fruit that wasn't so extracted that it overpowered. And further, neither one improved more than the other with the ribs or flank steak; they both stood up nicely to the different preparations. As a bit of note, this was a Cab from Argentina and not a Malbec, as might have been expected.

In the end, it was interesting to note that all four guys chose the Argentina Cab while the ladies agreed across the board on the Cotes du Rhone. Unfortunately for the gals, there were four men to the three ladies.

The verdict? This was a match where plenty of goals were scored and it went down to the wire. Let's say, definitely into overtime. The French played a much stronger game here than they did on the soccer field, but, I'm going to stick with the 4-3 vote and say that this was the final score as well. Just like in South Africa, the French are taking an early bow.

And Argentina moves on to face Australia in the first semi-final.

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