A delayed post to sum up a GREAT event; The Euro 2012 Final
So as the teams get ready for the BIG FINALE, sorting out their players, see who is fit and who would have to miss the squad. Prepare the list of substitutes, the strategy of game, against a known “enemy” on an unknown day. Isn’t that what makes Sport in general and football in particular a mostly harmless (not always!!), substitute of WAR?!
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has said he will try to find out the weaknesses in the Spain team, and would then set up his team to exploit those during their Euro Cup final showdown on Sunday in Kiev.
We did not invent these notions, us humans of the 20th and 21st century.
The ancient Olympic Games are shrouded in mystery and legend but first records indicate that they began in 776 BC in Olympia west Peloponnesus Greece. They were celebrated until 394 AD when they were suppressed by Theodosius claiming them to be a ritual of a pagan cult. The Games were usually held every four years, or Olympiad, as the unit of time came to be known. During a celebration of the Games, an Olympic Truce was enforced, wars were willingly stopped in their midst without resolve, allowing free and safe pass to all soldiers / athletes who traveled from their countries to the Games in safety. The prizes for the victors were wreaths of laurel leaves Hellanodikis used to place a sacred olive tree wreath- kotinos, on the winner’s head.
I know I have made a slight U turn from the issue at hand, after all it is my blog, but I’ll get back to the point.
So, as the teams got ready I had to get cracking, choosing the right team from the wines of each country ONLY from my own humble cellar, this is not an easy task since the cellar is unfortunately not amazingly stocked with THE Great wines of any of these wonderful wine countries, but I thinks I can manage fairly on both sides so: same disadvantages or “rules” apply on both sides, FAIR? and so the showdown begins it’s HIGH NOON in my Cellar!
They stand in the tunnel the tension is sky high, I am a bit concerned with the gloom on Casillas face he is usually calm (he is a well trained War Horse), but not today! does he feel the weight of the occasion? Or is he not 100% fit??? On the other side, Buffon is calm and assured on the outside (the poor bugger one of the world’s BEST goalkeepers will collect the ball 4 times from inside the net (But we know all that by now, apologies for the delay)
On the “wine field” the match is more even… I can turn it with words to either side… for… if the final score would have been different (in Italy’s favor) I would still present the same wines as “my teams” but twist it in favor of the outcome so let us be fair, the cellar does contain some great wines from good to great vintage years to represent a winning team on either side… Same as the teams in front of us but how will they perform as a team? Will the sommelier (open the bottles on time to serve them at their best, let them breath to just the right point of oxidation, decide to decant a wine of sorts oversee the correct serving temperature to name but a few of his responsibilities.
The line up
03 Pique, 15 Ramos, 17 Arbeloa, 18 Alba
06 Iniesta (Mata – 87′ ), 08 Xavi , 10 Fabregas (Torres – 75′ )
14 Xabi Alonso, 16 Busquets, 21 Silva (Pedrito – 59′ )
Substitutes: 07 Pedrito, 09 Torres, 13 Mata
Sommelier Coach– Vicente del Bosque: A coach to envy, with all the talent he has at hand. The players like his calm approach to the squad. He lead his side to the 2010 World Cup final and Cup. Winning the Euro 2012 title will place him among the all-time great national managers/coaches.
- Vega Sicilia Unico 1991 – (Iniesta ) This is Vega sicilia Gran Reserva wine produced only on good vintage years. It is released only on Super Vintages and released a minimum of 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%)
The 1991 Unico Reserva, Laid down for 14 yeard before release on 2005. With a deep dark purple color. Aromas of black ripe forest berries soaked in a good brandy, some Vanilla, dried fruits figs and aromatic Cigar noticeable touch. Very powerful “encounter” on the palate but the tannins are rounded though present, will go on evolving. It’s has great finesse combined with a great balance of youthful fruit and tannins to keep it alive for another 20-30 years.
- La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Cosecha 1987 – (Casillas) A wine glistening in brilliant, red colour with light brown edges. The wine is still extremely aromatic and elegant In the mouth, with notes of cinnamon cloves and all spice with a touch of vanilla. It is now smooth with rounded tannins flowing on the palate but has a very long satisfying finish It will continue to develop tertiary aromas and approachability.
- L’Ermita Alvaro Palacios 1997 -( Xavi) ” Powerful aromas of ripe black fruit in blueberry Jam, good oncentration of fruits and precise balance with tannins. This must be Spain’s most expensive wine! It reveals a pleasant liqueur touch on the nose as well as on the palate. It is elegant with but powerful, with fresh fruit and pleasant minerality characteristic of its geological origins in Priorat. Great stuff (it wasn’t a waste on you guys “The Wine Guzzlers” that memorable night in Paris…
- Marques de Riscal 1994 Gran Reserva
This Gran Reserva contains 20% of Cabernet Sauvignon and of course 70% tempranillo and 10% mazuelo Probably the best Rioja vintage of the nineties. Aged 29 months in American oak, then three years in bottle, to become a multilayered wine of great surprise
- Marques de Caceres 1994 Gaudium
A new super Riojan from Caceres, made only in the best vintage years. Aged in French oak and produced under the watchful eyes of the “flying Oenologist” Michel Rolland. This effort resulted in a wine with aromas of black ripe cherries with a touch of cedar shaving and tobacco with a touch of Mediterranean herbs. It comes out as an elegant wine with fine tannin structure. Very good length and vitality.
6. Muga Reseva 1988 Rioja
7. Vega sicilia, Tinto Valebuena No 5 Ribera del duoro cosecha 1992
8. Bodegas del Marques de Vargas Rioja Reserva Privada 1994
9. 1994 Miguel Torres Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Coronas Reserva Mas La Plana
10. Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Rioja 1986 When all wines in Spain were local wines consumed by local people Ygay Gran Reserva was the Spanish wine Ambassador around the world.
11. Marques de Morrieta Ygay Reserva 1988 Rioja
12. Marques de Haro Gran Reserva 1989 Larioja Alta This is a dbl. Magnum (3 L) special edition wine for the millenniu
13. Marques de Riscal Reserva 1993
14. Parés Baltà Mas Irene 2003 (Arbeloa)
15. Lustan Pedro Ximénez Murilla , 100 Anos 1896-1996 A Massive sweet wine
16. Don PX Pedro Ximénez Gran Reserva (1972) – Cordoba Sweat Nectar
17. Torre Muga 2004 Bodegas Muga Rioja – Wine Spectator magazine, rated Torre Muga 2004 amongst their 10 best red wines of the world list for 2007.
The Line up
03 Chiellini (Balzaretti – 21′ ), 07 Abate, 15 Barzagli, 19 Bonucci,
08 Marchisio, 16 De Rossi, 18 Montolivo (Motta – 56′ ), 21 Pirlo
09 Balotelli , 10 Cassano (Di Natale – 46′ )
06 Balzaretti, 05 Motta, 11 Di Natale
Italy coach / sommelier, Cesare Prandelli – After 5 successful years in Fiorentina agreed to try and save the Nation from a disastrous past champagne brought new young players entrusted the Azure (Blue team), in their talented feet they did well on the field and made Italy proud.
- 1. 1990 Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva Villa Antinori – (Buffon) An old timer always reliable, sound Toscan wine.
- 2. Sassicaia 2004 – (Pirlo) The best Sassicaia of the last 10 years…A great wine always performs well.
- 3. 1998 Isole e Olena Cabernet Sauvignon Collezione de Marchi Toscana IGT
- 4. Cepparello 1990 – always shines amongst the best in good vintages. The ’90 is sleek and focused, with vivid blackberry, tar and cedar character. Full-bodied, with full, silky tannins and a super finish. Made from Sangiovese.
- 5. Isole e Olena Cepparello 2006
- Isosole e Olena Cepparello 2005:
- Isole e Olena, Vin Santo 1997 (bottled 2003) Deep Amber colour, with golden ccopper hue. A dessert wineto die for!!! This the closest you get to the Nectar of the Gods (chosen by Zeus off Dionysus hands), Honeyed thick wine to the eye with rich scents dried figs and raisins and dried orange peel still light on the palate without the sugar overtones other Vin santo’s have, due to good balancing acidic touch some vanilla on the finish make it the perfect desert a blessing to god and men. But I wrote all that in one of the past posts: Utopia etc.
8. Castellare Chianti Classico 2000
With Intense ruby red in color. The bouquet is very fruity with spiced deep black cherries aroma, very well balanced Chianti with rounded approachable tannins. It reminds blackcurrants and Plum confiture, Yumm
9. 2007 Ripasso Bosan della Valpolicella Superiore , Producer: Gerardo Cesari Veneto Grapes: Corvina, Rondinella. Alcohol Volume: 14.00% From the Bosan vineyard one of Gerardo Cesari in Valpolicella
This wine is made by refermentation of Valpolicella wines of the same or previous vintage on the fermented grapes used in the Amarone production process: ripasso. The wine gains depth in colour, body, aromas and tannins and extra 1-1.5% alcohol by the process. Winemaking Notes Grapes: 80% Corvina, 20% Rondinella.
10. 1997 Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG, Veneto, Italy
One of Veneto’s most famous and prestigious wines.
11. Badia a Coltibuono Sangioveto Toscana IGT 1997
12. Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 1997
13. 1998 Tedeschi La Fabriseria, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG, Italy
14. Masi Valpolicella 1993
You should all know by now that Spain won 4:0 and went into the history books of world football by winning the last 3 major tournaments they qualified for 2 consecutive Euro Finals and the Mondial becoming Champions of the world with talent and style!!!
Players to remember from both teams:
IKER CASILLAS – GOALKEEPER (SPAIN), JORDI ALBA LEFT-BACK (SPAIN), SERGIO RAMOS CENTRE-BACK (SPAIN), XABI ALONSO ALL ROUNDER (SPAIN), ANDRES INIESTA CENTRAL MIDFIELD (SPAIN), XAVI CENTRAL MIDFIELD (SPAIN), ANDREA PIRLO CENTRAL MIDFIELD – (ITALY), STRIKER – MARIO BALOTELLI (ITALY)
The wines were all wines to remember in their own way some were better than others, but this is how it always goes… As you see the Spanish sommelier had more quality wines at hand on the substitutes bench and he made better use of them to bring the team to the winning position they did deserve, on the day
We’ll meet again during the Olympic games for (almost) more of the same with new faces and different sports.
It’s Euro Time
So what did we have in the Quarter Finals?
Portugal Vs 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)
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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,
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 Haut–Brion 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.
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.
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