Sunday, 13 June 2010

World Cup Wines. Day Three. Algeria vs Slovenia

Algeria is the alphabetical place to start on day three of the football World Cup.
 
As a French colony (until 1962) Algeria had a number of areas designated Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) but the coming of independence changed everything when the captive French market, including the army, departed for home and an inexorable increase in the influence of Islam has seen winemakers under massive pressure to stop producing alcohol.
 
The currently very limited availability of a celebratory Algerian wine such as vintage Cuvee du President or something to drown your sorrows like generic Chateau Tellagh means you're more likely to have to opt for a French wine made by one of the famous, albeit nowadays probably politically incorrectly named, pieds noirs - Algerian refugee families whose winemaking skills now grace some of the world's most famous wineries. 
 
In the United States, the Director of Winemaking at Robert Mondavi of California is herself a pied noir, Genevieve Janssens, while top of the list for me in Europe would probably be the Languedoc's renowned Skalli family.
 
So, if I had to recommend a wine to drink while watching Algeria, in the absence of anything from the country itself, I'd go for something from the eponymously branded Robert Skalli collection. Failing that a St Supery wine from the Napa Valley where Robert Skalli is the owner. Bit tenuous I know, but beats Nigeria's Pineapple Wine (see World Cup Wines. Day Two. Argentina vs Nigeria http://thewinerules.blogspot.com/2010/06/world-cup-wines-day-two-argentina-vs.html).
 
Algeria's opposition comes from Slovenia. 
 
They only deal in extremes in Slovenia. The worst of the reds are so thick with tannin you can almost slice them, while the Kras district produces a red wine style called Teran that is deliberately made to be highly acidic. The worst of the white wines also carry way too much acid so you've got to think that the winemakers must have some pact with the devils of dentistry such is their seeming determination to strip the enamel from your teeth. 
 
But the best whites are brilliant. 
 
Adjacent to the Italian border in the west, the winemakers of the Primorska region are pioneers of premium white wines, sometimes unusual blends, built with buttery malolactic weight on the palate and flavours like you've never experienced. You may also never have seen whites in such a range of colours either - from acid-blue white like diamonds through pale and rich yellows to orange.
 
Grape varieties to seek out include Rebula (Italy's Ribolla) Sivi Pinot (ultra fashionable Pinot Grigio) and Laški Rizling. Slovenia's best known labels include Movia, Radikon, Batič, Gravner and Santomas.
 
Algeria 0 Slovenia 2
 
NB. I haven't got a single result right yet. Maybe I should just stick to wine?

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