Friday, 11 June 2010

World Cup Wines. Day One. France vs Uruguay

The second match of the FIFA World Cup 2010 stars the perennial world wine champions, France. And Uruguay. You're a who? You're a guy? You're a gay? You're a country in South America nobody can find on a map?

On paper, it looks a horrible mismatch. France have Bordeaux and Burgundy, Châteauneuf and Champagne, Meursault and Madiran.

France were football World Cup Winners as recently as 1998. They would have won again in 2006 if Zinedine Zidane hadn't lost his head.

What chance for Uruguay?

Every chance. 

Uruguay were the winners of the first ever World Cup in 1930. And won again in 1950. Their answer to Thierry Henry is Diego Forlan. And Luis Suarez. Both world-class. 

And their answer to Madiran? Tannat.

Madiran is good everyday southern French red, ideal with food because it's a tad aggressive, dominated by the rather tannic Tannat grape. 

But nowhere near as aggressive as the Uruguayans whose reputation for physical football is second to none. They will literally kick you off the park if they have to.

And yet. 

And yet, put the same rough, tannin-thick grape into the hands of the best Uruguayan wine producers and you will see and taste something truly marvellous. 

Glasses of deep dark red wine, packed to the gunnels with rich and luscious juicy black fruit, cherries and plums, and with some age on them - five years or more? - a maturity that balances the tannins to give a lasting but still fruit-dominated finish. I love Tannat. It's always £10 a bottle and I've never had a bad one. Not from Uruguay.

De Lucca is a good producer, Marichal too and Casa Filgueira. 

Yes I know. What about all that First-Growth Bordeaux? The Burgundy crus? Footballers favourite, Cristal?

No. Not for me. Not this World Cup. I'll be leaving the Champagne on ice. Uruguay to win. Madiran 0 Tannat 1. 

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