Euro 2012 Football tournament with a Wine twist

It’s Euro Time

So what did we have in the Quarter Finals?

Portugal Vs Czech Republic

           

Czech Republic

Although I believe that any place that grows wine grape for wine making purposes will have someone who can make decent wine (or even more) Czech is not a real contender amongst traditional european wine producing countries. On the other hand Czech beer is world famous. The Czech Republic is the No. 1 beer drinking nation on the planet, with an annual consummation of 156 liters per capita. Beer also counts on “our” blog so there you go… Most Czech beers are lagers, brewed naturally from hand-picked hops. Czechs like their beer cellar temperature. The best known Czech beer is the original Pils beer, Pilsner Urquell, brewed in the town of Plzen and exported worldwide. Many Czechs also drink another Plzen brew, Gambrinus, or Bernard from Eastern Bohemia. They are good at it since beer making in Bohemia is recorded as early as 859 A.D. (a long enough time to practice)

Portugal

Wine in Portugal dates back to ancient Roman times, sometime from 70 to 270 AD this fact does not surprise you I’m sure! In fact wine culture was exported, through the Roman Empire to all of Western and Middle-Europe by the Roman (Jupiter & Bacchus bless their souls, or were they the Greeks with Zeus and Dionysus, we’ll find out soon!).

There are 8 wine regions in Portugal : they span from south to the north: Alentejo, Terras do Sado, Estremadura, Ribatejo,  Bairrada, Dao, Douro and Minho. All have roots in Roman times. Portuguese wine have made a quantum leap in quality in the last 10 years and still improving especially in the north: Dao and Douru. A worthy earn of ticket to the semifinals and a rightful contender to reach the finals with still a high hurdle on the way.

Without a doubt, a winner of the: Best newcomer, to the dry wine Big League.

As long as dessert fortified wines PORT (of all types) it is at the Top of the League for several hundred years now.

Portugal wins 1:0, Portugal and Portuguese wine go through to semi finals.

Germany           Vs           Greece

                      

Germany

Well you have probably guessed by now that wine in Germany dates back to Ancient Roman times, to sometime from 70 to 270 AD… Germany is a northern country it stretches between 47º- 55 º N, so although German wine regions are to be found on the same degree of latitude as Newfoundland the climate is influenced by the Gulf Stream and allows certain grape varieties to grow and mature (especially now with global warming and all).

There are around 13 German wine growing regions. The Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, and  Rheingau, produce the best wines, mostly white wine varieties (75%), but also produces some very good reds – usually from the Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) variety

The Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region comprises the valley of the River Mosel from where it joins the Rhine and its two small tributaries the Saar and the Ruwer. The Mosel River winds past steep, slaty slopes covered with some of Germany’s most famous vineyards. The best wines, come from the mineral-rich, slate slopes, and are made from Riesling grown on the steep, southern-facing slopes, The Rheingau, produces some of the finest German wines. mostly Riesling that develops to perfection, producing noble, elegant wines.

Greece

The origins of wine-making in Greece go back 6,500 years some 4000 years before Roman Empire influence (Zeus and Dionysus) win by a large margin. There are archeological confirmations to the fact that Greece is home to the second oldest known grape wine remnants discovered in the world (the oldest is the “kitchen” in Hajji Firuz Tepe Iran). Greek civilization and their worship of Dionysus, the god of wine, spread Dionysian cults throughout the Mediterranean areas during the period of 1600 BC to the year 1.  Ancient Greeks introduced the vines Vitis vinifera and made wine in their numerous colonies from Italy to southern France & Spain.

                                           Harvest from the Nests in Santorini (Vines are arranged on the ground in circular formation that forms a “NEST”)

Some of the best known, recorded wines for their quality come from mediteranian Islands like Crete, Lesbos, Rhodes, Santorini and Thasos. These Aegean Islands form one of the more interesting wine regions of Greece to date. Other regions are Peloponnese, Ionian Islands, Macedonian & Central Greece.

There are some Very impressive winemakers in Greece without enough international exposure or recognition.

Germany wins 4 – 2…and goes through to the semifinals.

Spain          Vs.             France

                

 France

Archeologists suggest that the Celts first cultivated the grape vine, Vitis vinifera, pre-dates Greek and Roman cultural influences, But the greatest influence on the wine history of Gaul came with the founding of Massalia in the 6th century BC by Greek immigrants from Phocae in Asia Minor. This continued  till eventually the area became a Roman province first known as Provincia and later Gallia Narbonensis. After that there was no looking back and wine industry developed to the heights we came to appreciate in the 20th century.

There are numerous wine regions of wines in France. (I guess) I will mention the two regions that “sum up” all the magic of the French wines:

Burgundy: All the complexity and nuances of “terroir” in one of France’s most prestigious wine regions. From the Côte d’Or with the most noble and various expressions of 2 grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Bliss on the palate and nose.

Bordeaux: The most renowned wine regions of the world. It produces the region’s traditional wine from a blend of grape varieties mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. With famous subregions as Pomerol, St-Emilion, Graves, St-Estèphe, Pauillac, Margaux & Sauternes. Sublime!

Spain

the great diversity of native grape varieties over 600 grape varieties are planted throughout Spain points to a very early viticulture start. There is Archaeological evidence of grape remains to sometime between 4000 and 3000 BC, when grapes were first cultivated for the purpose of wine making. This is long before the Phoenicians wine-growing culture established the trading post of Cádiz around 1100 BC. Later Carthaginians introduced new wine techniques & advances to Iberia and only later served the Roman Empire need for wine of different style and character.

With almost 60 regions and sub-regions Rioja, Navara, Priorat &Ribera del Duero and are the most established.

 Although Spanish wine and wine industry is amongst the oldest in Europe, and nowadays well known for their unique character and regarded with great esteem, still, in my mind, on the wine field Spain “looses” to France this is of course derived from a personal view of taste and style attraction. Football wise the quality over the football field is in favor of Spain.

The Spaniards beat France 2:0 and go through to the semifinals.

Italy        Vs        England.

            

ITALY

It wasn’t until the Greek colonization of the south of Italy, that wine-making flourished. Viticulture was introduced into Sicily and southern Italy by the Mycenaean Greeks during the Roman defeat of the Carthaginians (True masters of wine-making) in the 2nd century BC that Italian wine production began to further flourish. Large-scale plantations sprang up in many coastal areas and spread to such an extent that, in 92 AD, Emperor Domitian was forced to destroy a great number of vineyards in order to free up fertile land for food production.

With 20 wine regions that are spread evenly throughout the Land and numerous sub regions of particular nature within each region Italian wine especially in Piemonte in the nothe west and Toscana in the center make Italy into a substantial winemaking country and along with Spain and France the most established Old World Pillars of wine making tradition.

The grape varieties that set Italy apart from all other European countries

 Garganega – The main White grape variety for wines labeled Soave, this makes a crisp, dry white wine from Veneto region.

Trebbiano – This is the most widely planted white varietal in Italy. It is grown throughout the country, with a special focus on the wines from Abruzzo and from Lazio, including Frascati.

Nebbiolo is chiefly grown in Piedmont. Considered he most noble of Italy’s red varieties.

Sangiovese – The pride and essence of Toscana. Sangiovese is the main variety in Chianti (Classico), Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, Montefalco Rosso, and many others. And the backbone in many of the acclaimed “Super-Tuscans” Italy’s claim to fame!

Barbera – The most widely grown red wine grape of Piedmont and Southern Lombardy,

ENGLAND

The wine world as we know it today owes a lot to a country that is too northern to be a wine producing country. Yet the way we look at wines in all respects is due to the the English attitude to wine and continental wines in particular. The English are directly responsible for the quality of the wines of Bordeaux, Champagne, Porto, Madeira, Jerez to name but a few due to their need to quench their thirst…

It all started in 1152 when the marriage between Eleanor of Aquitaine and the future King Henry II of England brought a large portion of southwest France under English rule. When Henry’s son John inherited the English crown, he bestowed many privileges upon Bordeaux merchants giving the exemption from export tax, making Bordeaux wine the cheapest wine in the London market and gained immense popularity among the English, who call it claret (clear). For over the next 300 years much of Gascony, in particular Bordeaux, benefited by the close commercial ties with the English allowing this area to grow in prominence among all French wines. After the end of the Hundred Years War, these lands reverted back to French rule with a lasting imprint of English influence. The collapse of the Bordeaux ties to their largest customer; England, was a blow to both nations. The English soon established ties with Portugal but kept longing for French Claret.

The Aristocracy of Bordeaux  kept “loose” commercial contacts with the English Aristocracy. In 1649, Lord Arnaud III de Pontac became owner of Haut-Brion, and the wine’s growing popularity began in earnest. The first records of Haut-Brion wine found in the wine cellar ledger of the English king Charles II. During the years 1660 and 1661, 169 bottles of the “wine of Hobriono” were served at the king’s court. Samuel Pepys wrote in The Diarist, having tasted the wine at Royal Oak Tavern on April 10, 1663, to have “drank a sort of French wine called Ho Bryen that hath a good and most particular taste I never met with”

In 1666, after “The Great Fire”, the heir to Château HautBrion François-Auguste, opened a tavern in London called “L’Enseigne de Pontac”, or the “Sign of Pontac’s Head” which was according to André Simon, London’s first fashionable eating-house. Jonathan Swift “found the wine dear at seven shillings a flagon”. A 17th century period WINE BAR!!!

The Institute of Masters of Wine and WSET are located in London (more than 60% of around 250 worldwide MW are English!!! , The most prestigious wine Auction Houses Sotheby’s and Christies are in London. Without a doubt England is a center of wine knowledge and import with unparralel importance to world wine without being a wine producing country.

Having “patriotic roots” in England, I obviously supported “Her Majesty’s” team. They started well but played shamefully and deserved to loose.

Italy 0 – 0 England, Italy deservedly won 4–2 on penalties and proceeded to the Semifinals.

SEMI”S

PORTUGAL Vs SPAIN

The Iberian Peninsula Hosts a mini battle this time for the ticket to GLORY and a place at the EURO 2012 FINALS, the “Grand Finale”

This is indeed Guerra de guerrillas “War of little wars” on the football pitch. They stand and fight as equals! But the skill or luck of penalty shootout solution (unfair but Just), finally “defeats” the Portuguese.

Spain wins 4:2  on penalties and proceeded to the finals.

Here’s how it happened:

Spain starts with a Vega Sicilia Unico 1991 on the Field – The Gran Reserva wine produced only on good vintage years. It is a signature wine of Vega Sicilia and is usually released around 10 years or even more after the vintage. Made from the oldest vines in the Ribera del Duero, the wine is mostly Tempranillo ( 80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon ( 20%). In an average vintage,

Portugal tries with a 1937 Barros Port than uses 1994 Warres Vintage Port as a substitute in Overtime against this time a La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Cosecha 1987 On pouring the wine, one immediately notices its brilliant, ruby red colour and its aromatic nose. This wine is in fact so aromatic that it is its dominant feature. In the mouth, the first impression is of roundness and creaminess, then notes of spice and vanilla come through, leading to a warm, enveloping flavour, with a most elegant and distinguished finish. It is a full and lively wine; well-structured and young for its age with a broad and abiding palate which is confirmed by a smooth and long-lasting after taste. It will continue to develop over the coming years with a long life ahead of it. (from:http://www.riojalta.com/datos/vinos/pdf_doc_en29/I%20904%2087.pdf)

ITALY Vs GERMANY

The Italians are all in the vineyard Happy towards a good harvest there is joy in their play (I did not expect). They prune and tend to the grapes knowing the razzmatazz of the harvest will be proceeded with a great wine…

The Germans come on to the pitch serene and with apprehension- fear or anxiety over what may happen, they change their game style that brought them to this occasion and fall down the trap they dug themselves.

 

The Italians bring Sassicaia 2004 The best Sassicaia of the last 10 years… And score 2 goals! The rest is history which can be told in 2022 when I open the last bottle. At the moment it has Deep Purple ruby color. With intense aromas of ripe black forest fruits, a touch of minty nepitella and earthy mushrooms, rich and velvety with long finish on the palate with high tones of cassis, cloves, dark chocolate and coffee. With a very good balance, between fresh fruit and Tannins. A keeper. They bring on Cepparello 1990 as a substitute and seal the match.

The Germans bring the right wines to give a good fight but at the wrong temperature which spoils the quality of tasting and sends them back to the vineyard to tend to next year’s harvest with new hopes for a better vintage.

Italy wins 2:1 and proceeds to the Finals

    

And that’s Euro 2012 for you with some wines on the way.

The Euro 2012 Finals are on Sunday ITALY Vs SPAIN let us see what wines the teams bring and wait for the tournaments outcome.

Your WINEGUIDE

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