Saturday, June 5, 2010

World Cup of Wine @ Solano Cellars

I know this may surprise any regular readers, but in this post I am going to talk about wine. Don't worry though, in a couple of days I'll be back to canning recipes and whoopie pies.

Tonight I attended the second in a series of tastings that Solano cellars and their associated stores are hosting in honor of the World Cup. As their website states:

A friendly competition between wine-growing regions
from around the world. We're putting reputations aside
and letting you decide in a fun and exciting

Each week, we'll be hosting a variety of tastings
where one can sample the best wines each region
has to offer. At the end, you vote and the winning
country and the best wines move on.

The others are left to watch from the sidelines.

Tuesday, June 22nd, Quarterfinal 1 at Vintage Berkeley Vine Street
Thursday, June 24th, Quarterfinal 2 at Vintage Berkeley Elmwood

Tuesday, June 29th, Quarterfinal 3 at Solano Cellars
Thursday, July 1st, Quarterfinal 4 at Vintage Berkeley Elmwood

Tuesday, July 8th, Semifinal 1 at Vintage Berkeley Vine Street
Thursday, July 10th, Semifinal 2 at Solano Cellars

Final: July 15th at Vintage Berkeley Elmwood

I missed the Thursday night France vs. South Africa tasting. News that it was close made me wonder about the wines served. Curious, despite spending the day tasting at Tapas in the city, I napped and headed over for Portugal vs Australia. 12 wines were tasted and we were asked to list both our top 3 choices as well as our pick between the 2 countries. My pick: Portugal and it was not even close. My wine of the night was the 09 Soalheiro Alvarinho, which was almost perfect for a warm night in the East Bay. Coming in 2nd for me was the 06 Cabriz Reserva Dao blend. Third was the Hewitson "Miss Harry" an Australian wine from the Barossa Valley.

What is interesting to think about though is how and if one can judge a country versus another based on 12 wines. Clearly, we all have our biases. As the tasting is not blind those come into play. What also comes into play, of course, is the wines selected for the tasting. I'm hoping that once the competition ends, they will release a list of all of the wines that competed. I am confident that an effort has been made to choose wines that are representative of the countries or regions involved, but also think it would be easy to "fix the competition" depending upon selections. That said, here are my picks for the remainder of the tournament. Note that given my history with the NCAA tournament, a wise soul would pick against me. Also note that I have generally chosen the countries I would like to have win rather than those that I expect to win.

France v South Africa: Winner: France (I did not attend. I find it hard to believe this was close.)
Portugal v Australia: I came in and left thinking Portugal. We shall see what the voters decide.

Spain v Chile Spain
Oregon v Austria This could be an interesting night. Given that it is a Thursday I'll not be there. I'll choose Austria but will not be surprised to see Oregon win.
Germany v New Zealand Germany

Washington v Argentina I'm picking Washington but don't expect them to advance past the next round
California v Hungary I'm going to be really surprised if California does not win. I'm also expecting Hungary to surprise some people.
Italy v Croatia Italy and I would guess it is not close.

Which takes us to round 2, picks dependent upon my first round picks
France v Portugal Sorry Portugal. I imagine the pinot is not showing that night. France easily.
Washington v Italy Another easy win for Italy.
California v Germany This one hurts. I expect California will win, especially given that this is at Elmwood.
Austria v Spain Austria

Which takes us to the next round:
France v Italy Why are these on the same side of the bracket? Despite the early near upset, I'm going with France. This seems like the night not to miss. Given, of course, they both make it out of the earlier rounds.
California v Austria: This is why I lose the NCAA tournament pools every year. It comes down to heart versus mind. Maybe Jason could fix this round for me? I expect California to win.

Which takes us to the final showdown:
France v California
My pick, France. Thus essentially guaranteeing a wine for California.

Be sure to follow along to see exactly how wrong my picks are. If you can, head out one night and vote!

And just in case anyone is curious, despite my vow to buy no more wine, I came home with 4 bottles, most not from the tasting:
09 Soalheiro Alvarinho (my favorite of the night)
08 Cornica Malvasia
07 Coenobium Rusticum Bianco
89 Pinon Vouvray

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