The World Goblet Round 2: Chile vs. United States

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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.

Today Round 2 begins with a long-standing U.S. value leader and a worthy Chilean contender.

Started by Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard, the Big House line was sold to the Wine Group, L.L.C., in 2006 after the brand had grown so large that Grahm was no longer happy with the sort of wine of he had to make in order to produce enough cases. (The lads at Grape Radio just did a great interview with Grahm -- you can listen to it here -- in which he discusses the Big House experience and what he's up to now.)

Chile's entrant is from a rising star of the nation's wine industry, ViƱa Ventisquero, which has quickly built a reputation for exporting high-quality wines at attractive prices.

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

Next: Pop dem corks!

2008 Big House Red California ($8)
Um. Wow? A lurid purple hue and a blast of sweet jelly that whomps you in the nose. Fortunately, this one's not as sweet as it smells, but it's sweet, ripe fruity fruit fruit, with just a hint of tannin. And did we mention the fruit? There's enough fruit here to start an orchard. Also sufficient acidity to keep it from being cloying, but this is a table wine, not a dessert wine, so cloying shouldn't enter the discussion at all.

The wine is better than a lot of the super-fruity, off-dry red wines that clog supermarket shelves, but that's what Gut Check calls "damning with faint praise." Translation: This wine ain't good.

2008 Yali Wetland Sauvignon Blanc Winemaker's Selection Rapel Valley Chile ($8.50)
Pale gold, with an initial whiff of rotten egg that blows off with some vigorous swirling to reveal a mild mix of ripe pear and raw sugar-snap pea. Not at all distinctive, and on the watery side. By day two the rotten egg was all gone, but not much else had transpired.

Maybe this'd work as a sauvignon blanc for people who don't like that grape's racy, intense aromatics. (But why would such a person want to buy a sauvignon blanc?)

Result: Draw

And a 0-0 draw at that. Without so much as a shot on goal.

The Big House is fine if your usual tipple has a cute Australian critter on the label. On the positive side, if that describes you, you'll be glad to know that Big House now comes in three-liter boxes for the princely sum of $15 -- that works out to $3.75 a bottle. At that price it's pretty much a must-buy for the lover of sweetish, overly fruity industrial wine product.

As for the Yali, it was just...weird. And almost flavorless. If you love weird, almost flavorless wines, then....

Group C Standings:

Country

W

L

T

Pts

United States

1

0

1

4

Australia

1

0

0

3

Chile

0

1

1

1

Germany

0

1

0

0


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