The World Goblet Round 1: Greece vs. New Zealand

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While scanning the World Cup groups in order to plan our daytime drinking over the next month, Gut Check noticed that most of the great wine-producing nations are represented in the tournament field, including all of those with a reputation for crafting good, value-priced wines. Because Gut Check never saw a value we didn't like, we resolved to stage our own tournament to determine the 2010 World Goblet Champion.

Greece is almost certainly this tournament's biggest unknown. Frankly, there aren't a lot of Greek wines in the market (if you think French names are tough, try ordering an argiorgitiko with confidence), so we're on relatively uncharted ground. Which, while exciting for us, may be disastrous when it comes time to pull corks.

By contrast, New Zealand has been a rising star, but it's one that's risen so far that most of its well-known producers have soared past our $12 price limit. Does the next Kiwi wave carry on the tradition of great values, or have the nation's wineries succumbed to indistinct industrial swill?

To view all 2010 World Goblet matches to date, click here...

Next: Let's get a-swirlin' and a-drinkin'!

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Dave Nelson
2004 Cambas Nemea Reserve ($13)
Medium ruby. Smells of spicy plum, dried cherry and, well, old library book. Time in the glass releases some leather and earthy notes. (Let's just say that old library book is really old.) You can tell this baby's seen some age -- note the vintage -- and the years haven't done it a bit of harm. Medium body, and downright savory, with a great blend of fruit and herb notes.

This wine hollers out for lamb off the grill. Made from the indigenous agiorgitiko variety, which Gut Check can now scratch off our life list.

2009 Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($11)
Light green-gold. You've got your classic Kiwi pungency here: pepper, mango and tangerine fly out of the glass and nearly singe your nose hairs. A complete contrast to the subtlety of the Greek wine, but no less compelling. The flavor mimics the beezer, but the interplay between the acidity and the fruit makes for a fun ride.

This is more complex than most New Zealand sauvignon blancs, and a really good value. Great summer sipper material here.

Result: Draw

While a draw isn't a huge surprise, the overall quality of both of these bottles definitely is. We've lamented the industrial quality so many New Zealand sauvignon blancs seem to possess now -- including the previous vintage of today's wine! -- but this one's a flashback to the good old days. And the Greek wine was, plain and simple, a complete unknown. One of the joys of drinking wine is to open a bottle with absolutely no expectations and have it be completely charming. Even giving the Greeks a slight penalty for being a buck over our price ceiling (the shelves aren't exactly teeming with them...), this was still well within the parameters of a draw.


Group B Standings:

Country

W

L

T

Pts

Greece

0

0

1

1

New Zealand

0

0

1

1

France

0

0

0

0

Italy

0

0

0

0


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