A World Cup Wine Match and #bwcw

There are already far too many “World Cup” mentions around at the moment, but not all that many include wine.

This is not the place to look for recommendations of what to drink whilst you watch your favourite national team take you to moments of both ecstasy and despair … as ALWAYS happens in football (it is what makes it so addictive). This is about a fun attempt to model a wine tasting on the football head-to-head knock-out concept … and therefore NOTHING like most wine events.

Bibendum Wine Ltd. put on what they called the Bibendum World Cup of Wine (#bwcw) over the last few months and unfortunately I was unable to make it to any of the stages until the final. I followed along from the sidelines (see what I did there?) but as with most football related stuff I was not very involved. However, the final coincided with Gal Zohar’s leaving for distant shores, so I made extra efforts to get along.

I’ll ruin any tension and tell you straight away that South Africa won, defeating Italy. In WINE!

This is possibly more shocking than doing so on the football field!

How did they do that? Well, like the best football matches it wasn’t ANYTHING to do with the strength or influence of the country, its centuries of history, or the pool of resources it had to call upon. It is ALL about the players on the field, those refereeing the event, and the vagaries of the game.

There were some total mismatches:

The Bisol Prosecco Jeio against the Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs. The Bisol is a lovely, light, refreshing wine, whilst the Graham Beck had serious complexity, elegance and length. They were both sparkling, but nothing like each other. Which was better? It is like comparing an attacking player and a defensive one. A team needs both and neither replaces the other. The referees gave it to the Jeio. Much as I liked the Italian offering, I went with the added complexity for the same price from South Africa. Personal preference.

Then there was a match between the Saam Mountain Shiraz Viognier and a Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino. On paper, not a match. However, I felt that the Banfi was carrying an injury (some kind of fault, not TCA or oxidation, but something musty) and not playing well on the night. Shame.

On the other hand, there were some shockingly good contests, particularly on the blind wines. The Chardonnay pair were very good, with an ever-so-slight edge (for me) for what turned out to be the Alois Lageder Lowengang Chardonnay. The Shiraz pair were also interesting, but there was a distinct advantage given by the selectors to the South African Journey’s End Shiraz as they picked the 2005 wine to fight a 2008 from Basilicata. The latter was velvety smooth but was young and relatively simple, but the Journey’s End had more interesting complexity. A winner.

Finally, they made me taste one of my favourite ever wines, the De Trafford Straw Wine and attempt to be fair to the Italian Recioto di Soave. Sorry. No can do. The De Trafford was delicious, honeyed, caramel, biscuity, rich and yet still so fresh. It was a clear winner and probably stole the match in the end for South Africa.

This was not, as all would attest, a straight wine tasting. It was just fun, with the final result affected by the different approaches and preferences of the tasters, the selections made (to confound us) by Bibendum, and the need to match wines by price as well as style.

However, if we are to get a broader range of people interested in tasting and comparing wines (not just drinking them during football matches) then it was a fun and innovative event.

Thanks to all those involved.

For more details and a list of the wines check out these great posts:
Bibendum: It’s the World Cup Final
Wine Rambler: How South Africa Stole the World Cup from Italy

1 Comment
  • Gareth
    June 7, 2010

    Great write up, Rob and you are right, this was much more about engagement and fun than a serious competition. Thanks for coming along and helping to judge.I would argue we weren’t deliberately trying to confound people but there were some mismatches. In the end I think SA won all its matches because the wines showed well and people liked them – and I think that is a very fair result.