Issue #45, December 2022
Here we are in the midst of the annual search for stocking stuffers plus something altogether different for December; World Cup fever. It’s one fever to welcome with open arms.
That said, I thought we should host a friendly; a showdown between some of the great wine-producing countries of the world. The qualifier for getting into this tournament was simply this, if the wine looks good, it’s in.
So, hurry and grab your usual seat at the old tasting table in beautiful Jim’s Affordable Cellar Stadium and get set for all the thrills and excitement of pulling some corks for the first (and likely last) Jim’s Affordable Cellar World Cup of Wine.
Welcome back to The Cellar.
Let’s kick things off with Match #1.
This is a doozy of a tilt between two superpowers of the wine world.
France vs Chile
Team France has taken to the tasting pitch with this beautiful Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache blend. It’s very typical of the French winemakers from Midi to use this lineup of grapes. And why not, they team so well together.
Château Rombeau L’Élevé
Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2018
750 ml bottle Vintages #28411
This wine is a powerhouse with essences of dark fruit, berries, gunpowder and smoke with a leathery soul. It scored very high at the Decanter World Wine Awards and it definitely has scored early here in the cellar.
Team Chile is a formidable opponent with this Vistamar Gran Reserva from Alto Cachapoal; an amazing micro-climate in the Rapel Valley.
Vistamar Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Cachapoal Valley, Chile
750 ml bottle Vintages #27204
Chile has produced a tasty cabernet sauvignon with rich, ripe fruits, some spice and an herbal character. It’s a silky, smooth player that’s full of fruity flavours and lively freshness. This wine will keep France on its toes.
Match #2 in the schedule is an unlikely matchup, but nonetheless an absolute beaut!
Australia vs Argentina
Australia is going for an upset win here with its Hollick The Bard Cabernet Sauvignon 2019.
This entry is captained by the Hollick family who began developing their vineyard in 1975. The wine celebrates the life of famous Aussie poet John Shaw Neilson who once lived in a cottage where the grapes now grow.
Hollick The Bard Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
750 ml bottle Vintages # 18525
Neilson would wax poetic about this classic cab with its ripe fruit, vanilla and tannic backbone. Sadly, this wine is a tad difficult to find. It gets a yellow card for that. But it’s worth the search though.
Argentina has really come to play with Cadus Tupungato Malbec 2018. The grapes for this wine grow at high altitudes in the Gaultallary wine region. The vines are situated at the foot of the Andes as high as 1600 metres above sea level. This altitude means increased levels of sunlight so the grapes produce more tannins and the wine produced from them have intense colour and increased longevity.
Cadus Tupungato Appellation Malbec 2018
750 ml bottle Vintages # 482992
By all accounts, Cadus is a superb, full-bodied Malbec. Vintages Magazine praises it with aromas of aniseed and a palate that is rich, dense and textured.
We could continue to enjoy that Malbec for a while but it looks like Match #3 is about to begin.
Canada vs England
This is one sweet matchup, literally.
Canada has fielded one of its signature products; ice wine. Now, before we get too far into this one, you should know I haven’t abandoned the ‘affordable’ part of our raison d’être. Nor did I over-indulge in that Malbec. Simply put, ice wine is damn pricey! But there’s a good reason.
Canada produces some of the world’s very best ice wine. And much of it comes from Ontario because production can only happen in areas with below-freezing weather conditions. Ice wine is produced by leaving the grapes on the vine until a sustained temperature of at least -8 is reached. The grapes are hand-picked and pressed before they thaw.
Low yield + labour intensive = $$$$. The result is juice that’s high in sugar and acidity with rich flavour.
Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2017
200ml bottle Vintages #471813
This Lakeview Cellars Icewine is a rich burgundy colour in the glass. It wafts of ripe black cherries and black currant jam. This is a compote of liquid luxury.
A little splash with your Chelsea Bun on Christmas morning would be a fine idea. It would also be a special gift for someone special.
England is giving Canada a run for its money with a unique wine that we’ve never seen in the cellar. While we would normally associate the U.K. with dark ale, bangers and mash, so too is it the land of the sweet taste of Mead.
Mead is made my fermenting honey and mixing it with fruits, spices, grains or hops. It is often called Honey Wine or the ‘Nectar of the Gods’. It was a popular drink in medieval Ireland. In the Old English epic poem Beowulf, the Danish warriors drank mead. But while it was a drink for warriors and Vikings, it’s just fine for kith and kin.
750 ml Vintages # 987263
Moniack Mead is a classic British mead; rich and sweet with generous aromas of honey, dried apricot and spice. You can serve it chilled or over ice but heated, it’ll make Christmas that much warmer. A little sipper while watching ‘A Christmas Carol’ or ‘Elf’ would be just perfect.
Well, the three matches we’ve covered are probably going to shootouts. And that could take more time than we have here. So, I’m going to leave it to you to determine the winners at the JAC World Cup of Wine.
One thing is certain. When wine is on the line, this definitely is ‘the beautiful game’.
Before we leave the cellar for Christmas break, I’d like to act like a Pine and get a little sappy. Thanks so much for another year of interest and your monthly visits to our tasting sanctuary. I’d be kind of lonely down here without you.
I wish you the happiest and healthiest of times.
See you in 2023.
Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.
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