Spain 2 - Australia West 2
(Australia West won 62-58 on vote count back)
Beyond The Label's inaugural World Cup of Wine kicked off in spectacular style on Friday, when a close match between Spain and Australia West was decided on points after a 2-2 draw.
The concept of the tournament is to pitch four wines from one of the world's great wine regions against four similarly-styled wines from another great region, and ask our tasting panel of customers to decide which wines are the best. On hand providing insights and anecdotes were experts Greg and Steve (representing Spain) and Eugene (representing Australia West - for our purposes, this meant the great states of W.A. and S.A.).
In the first bracket, the participants were asked to submit sparkling rosé wines. Australia West led the way with the delicious, savoury, salmon-hued Jeté by Howard Park hailing from the Mount Barker region of Western Australia. Spain followed up with a classic dry Cava Rosado from Torre del Gall of the Penedes region southwest of Barcelona. The voting was tight, with the Spanish wine getting the nod from the panel of thirty thirsty customers - by 17 votes to 13.
Visibly ruffled, Eugene knew he need to pull something out of the bag in the next round of aromatic white wines. He selected the peppery Kuhl Grüner Veltliner from Longview of the Adelaide Hills, whereas the Spaniards unveiled their classic, mineral La Fontana Albariño from the Rías Biaxas region of north-western Spain. The panel appreciated both wines, with just one switched vote separating them; the Australian Grüner getting the nod by 16-14.
With the scores tied, the third round was going to be a crucial moment. Asked to select a light red, Eugene picked the unusually crisp and delicate, fruity Flint Rock Pinot Noir, again from the Mount Barker region of W.A. Greg and Steve picked a classic red blend of Tempranillo and Mataro - Señorio de Orgaz from the central Spanish region of Castilla. The preference of the jury was this time much more conclusive, with a 22-8 victory for Australia West.
Knowing that a tied overall score would mean the result being decided on count back of the individual votes, Eugene went into the final round knowing that just nine votes would secure him overall victory. His selection in the full-bodied reds round of a Coonawarra classic, the delicious, structural blackberry-dominated Majella Cabernet Sauvignon, was a safe bet and seemed likely to bring him home. The Spaniards had saved their big guns for the final round, however. They paused, drew breath, and then poured the massive 2006 'Longus' from Domain Longaz in Cariñena, north-eastern Spain. A rare and expansive - not to mention expensive - beast, this powerful and intense blend of Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon is undeniably a truly great wine. The panel agreed, but only by a margin of 19-11, meaning that Australia won the overall event by 62-58 - just two switched votes; an incredibly close finish to a brilliantly fun and festive event. At the finish, the Australian national anthem rang out and was sung with gusto.
In two weeks, the next World Cup of Wine match will pit our cousins New Zealand against strongly-backed Italy. Later in the tournament, you will be able to support the home team Australia East (that's New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania), two French teams, as well as a team of all The Americas. The entire show will wrap up with a Grand Final on Friday 4th November, after which we will finally know once and for all - courtesy of the great residents of Sutherland Shire - which is the greatest wine region of them all.