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Rugby World Cup Wines

Olly Majestic HerefordRugby World Cup fever has reached Majestic stores. As with Rugby and wine, New Zealand plays to its strengths, so Olly from Majestic Hereford sees what the other countries on show have to offer…

Over the next six weeks, sports fans will be treated to a feast of rugby in New Zealand. We look at the contenders and key players through a pair of Majestic tinted glasses.

New Zealand – ‘The Favourite’

There is no doubt that the All Blacks are the favourites on home turf and the wines of New Zealand are phenomenally popular here at Majestic too. Excellent quality across the field and punchy flavours make them the favourite for a reason.

Star Player – Waimea Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Nelson
A classically pungent and aromatic Sauvignon blanc from Waimea that is on a cracking offer at the moment.
Stadium Otago via Flickr Andy Holt

France – ‘New blood’

On their day, Les Bleus can beat any team in the world but sadly sometimes they don’t meet expectations. Aside from the great wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy, wines from the lesser known regions can be a bit hit-and-miss. Areas around the rugby heartland of Toulouse have enjoyed huge investment and as a result the wines now offer great value and quality. You won’t be disappointed.

Star Player – Paul Mas Estate Marsanne ‘La Forge Vineyard’ 2010 Vin de Pays d’Oc

A floral nose with plenty of pear fruit with hazelnut flavours on the finish,

Argentina – ‘Emerging superpower’

The Pumas flourished at the world cup four years ago and, like the wine industry, has emerged as a new global player. A good Argentinian Malbec has great power of fruit and, thanks to high altitude, remarkable finesse and depth.

Star Player – Viñalba Malbec Reserva 2008/2009 Mendoza

A classic Malbec filled with rich black fruit and a moreish chocolate finish.

England – ‘Plucky Underdog’

The English wine industry is still very much in its infancy but, like the 2007 world cup finalists have claimed a few unexpected scalps. Last year, an English sparkling wine beat the best of Champagne to win the ‘Best Sparkling Wine Trophy’. The still wines are fantastic too, try what we have from the Chapel Down Winery in Kent.

Star Player – Chapel Down Flint Dry
A mouth full of apples merging seamlessly to plenty of flinty minerality and racy acidity. (available at selected stores)

Australia – ‘There or thereabouts’

The Wallabies and the Australian wine scene have been global players for years, but now more than ever they need to be at the top of their game.
The Aussies have tried to adopt a more regional theme in the wine industry in a bid to increase quality and reduce the reliance on the ‘super-brands’. One of the best examples is in the McLaren Vale where a sea breeze keeps the temperature down to help produce a wonderfully rich but zesty form of chardonnay.

Star Player – Kangarilla Road Chardonnay 2010 McLaren Vale

Crisp and clean but also concentrated and rich make this a beguiling glass from Australia’s new breed of winemakers.

Italy – ‘The next big thing’

The Italian rugby team has come on leaps and bounds in recent years but is still a work in progress. Unlike the Azzurri, the wines of Italy achieved greatness hundreds of years ago. Vines have been known to exist since roman times in parts of northern Italy. A wine that is becoming more widely recognised is prosecco. For many years it was little known and was far less popular than wines like Asti. Try a prosecco today and you are treated to a fizz that is dripping in melon and apricot flavours and delivered in a deliciously off-dry style.

Star Player – Prosecco La Marca Treviso Extra Dry NV

Lots of melon with more floral notes and a lovely long off-dry finish. If we get a sunny autumn, you’ll want a glass of this.

South Africa – ‘If it ain’t broke..’

The Cup via Flickr americanistadechiapas Triumphant last time out, the Springboks will be looking to defend their title with much the same group of players. Thankfully, there are some new names emerging from the South African wine scene. The De Morgenzon winery typifies this with a new modern winery and a commitment to biodynamics which stretches as far as playing music to the vines. Baroque music is played across the vineyards at all times, which they believe has a positive effect on grape ripening.

Star Player – DMZ Syrah 2009 De Morgenzon, Stellenbosch

Ripe black fruit and plums with a decent kick of black pepper and a very South African earthy character.

Tweet Olly and the Majestic Hereford team @majesticher