The World Cup (Part One)

Although my children are sleeping like angels, I seem to be getting very little blogging time. My evenings are filled with eating, drinking, washing up, tidying up, watching my wife wash up, and by the time I get upstairs and turn on the computer it’s time to go to bed. All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I’m about to write something that I should have written days ago.

The latest Bibendum bloggers’ evening last Thursday (last Thursday!), then. They’ve previously had us round to drink Italian wine, and Australian, and Champagnes. This, however, was the first round of their World Cup. A spurious concept, this, whereby they pick a few competing nations which make decent wine, pick a few of their wines, and then ask us to judge which is best.

Nothing that we decide should be taken at all seriously. Chile, for example, makes a lot of excellent wine, but we got served an unlovely chardonnay and a downright unpleasant Valdivieso cabernet franc with a combined value of under £19 (the Valdivieso, at £11.26, offers spectacularly bad value for money). It wouldn’t have taken much to beat that, but they happened to be up against an Italian chardonnay/pinot grigio – not mind-blowing, but interesting, integrated – and a mini super Tuscan, Ceppaiano “Violetta”, that was really good. Combined value: just under £29. An unfair fight, and Chile were dumped at the quarter-final stage.

Fighting the Ceppaiano for man-of-the-match awards was the Els Pyreneus, Les Hauts de l’Agly, Cotes du Roussillon Villages, which made up for the outrageous length of its name by being totally ace and, at £10, super duper value. As the Wine Gang said, a “stunning wine of impeccable balance”. With that on their side France could hardly lose, and the USA, with a Loredona pinot grigio proving profoundly, deeply average, had no chance despite a quite impressive Marmesa Syrah (the people whose pinot noir I liked at the Bibendum annual tasting).

In other results, South Africa beat Argentina and the game between Australia and Spain was so close by my scores that I can’t work out who won.

As a competition, Bibendum’s vinous World Cup is hopelessly flawed. As an artificial construct intended entirely to get people in a room together with some glasses and some wines, it was a scorcher.

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