Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Olympic Spirit(s) | July 31, 2012

What if the medals won by wines actually meant something?

With the 30th games of the Olympiad now underway, my television will be on at all times, showcasing young people in peak-physical condition participating in a collection of competitive sport, meant to spread goodwill worldwide.

Sitting on my couch, observing the physical perfection of superior athletes who likely spend very little time on the couch, I immediately feel inspired to raise my game, go out for a run, eat better, and make positive changes in my life…

…and then I get to thinking about how I can incorporate booze into watching the Games.  Being a man of purity of focus, the latter consumes my thoughts and energies.  “Wasn’t I supposed to exercise or something?  Nah, I’m good-looking enough.”  Either that, or I’ve long ago given up.  Leave the washboard abs to those young bucks in the Olympics.  Sleek, swimmer’s build looks ridiculous in a Tommy Bahama shirt anyway.

But I digress.  Every four years (two, if you count the Winter Olympics, kind of the “New York Mets” of Olympic games), countries around the world present their greatest champions to compete for gold and best-represent said homelands.  Which got me to pondering:  if each country could just put one wine forward to challenge the rest of the world’s wares, which bottles would complete the field?  No “one red, one white, one rosé” or any diplomatic crap like that.  One shot for each country to flog its best wine.

We’re not talking about the contrived, everyone-gets-a-prize medals from hundreds of wine “competitions” around the country.  These accolades would result in the kind of national pride one wants to shove down other countries’ throats.  One wine in the world gets the gold.  One gets the silver.  One, the bronze.  The rest of the countries can suck it.

Sorry, Jamaica.  We’re talking wine, not bobsledding.  You’re hosed.  And with all due respect to the host nation(s) of Great Britain, I’m not allowing Bacchus into this competition.  Just the best of the best gets invited.  You’ll get consideration when I do the “fish n’ chips Olympics” (pending).

Let the parade of nations begin (and the parade of controversy):

  • Argentina – With all due respect to the monolithic Mendoza Malbec, Torrontés Riojano from Salta is uniquely Argentina’s own.  Somewhat creepily, I also feel it would look good playing beach volleyball.
  • Austria – While I’m cheering for underdogs Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch (the red-skinned stepchildren, if you will), Grüner Veltliner from Wachau/Kremstal/Kamptal muscles its way through the qualifying.
  • Australia – Shiraz is king here.  An easy pick?  McLaren Vale?  Barossa?  I’m going to throw a boomerang (I wanted to say “throw a curveball”, but at least respect my regional metaphor) and go with Eden Valley Riesling.  Have had some stunners from there.
  • Chile – I love some of the stuff coming out of Casablanca Valley, but I have to concede to Chile’s adopted only son, Carménère.  From the Maipo Valley.  But not the crappy stuff.  The good stuff that’s hard to find.
  • France – Tough call.  Lots of champion athletes of Gallic stock.  I’ve had Chassagne-Montrachet and Meursault that have almost made me cry (almost… I’m too tuff to cry).  Sauternes can be a thing of beauty.  The Loire and Rhône are breeding grounds of excellence.  Bordeaux and Burgundy are as decorated as Mark Spitz.  But Champagne- especially great, grower Champagne, is unlike anything else on Earth.
  • Germany – I like saying “Bernkastler Badstube”.  And if there’s Eiswein from there, I’m slapping it in a speedo.
  • Greece – The birthplace of the Olympics has been making wine for a long time.  Much of it bad, but the training program has been on the rise lately.  Traditionalists would say Retsina, but we can use that to clean the locker room afterwards.  Rather, I want to nominate minerally, almost-salty Assyrtiko from Santorini.
  • Hungary – Tokaji Essencia.  Like a ZJ, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
  • Italy – I’ve narrowed it down to Barolo, Amarone della Valpolicella, an Brunello di Montalcino.  Reluctantly, going with the latter… Italy’s most rustic and classic grape expressed in its most ethereal form.
  • New Zealand – Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, but there are some solid Pinot Noirs, too.  I’m not sure the Kiwis have enough firepower to compete on the international super-stage (being known for phenomenal value wines), but they’ll always have the toothbrush fence.
  • Portugal – You may pay more for some amazing vintage Port, but 40-year Tawny will always perform.
  • Spain – It’s not the most expensive, nor the most age-worthy out of a sea of wine in Spain, but I’ve heard whispers about the Albariños of Rias Baixas.  You know, the ones they don’t send over here.  I want those.
  • United States – ARGHHH.  It’s easy picking the other countries.  I don’t really care about them. Call me a xenophobe or an isolationist.  But what am I sending to London to represent my home nation?  Many call Zinfandel America’s own.  But it’s really a genetic equivalent of Croatia’s red grape, Crljenak Kaštelanski.  About as American as the U.S. team’s opening ceremony uniforms.  Norton is certainly a purely American grape, but the finest of Augusta, Missouri on the international stage isn’t scratching me where I itch.  I think I’m going to pull a 1980 and boycott the U.S. team.  Or, let’s pump wine up with some anabolics and submit Bourbon.

Honorable Mention (countries who could put up an accolade-worthy wine):  Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Israel, Macedonia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Uruguay.

Disagree?  Make you arguments.  I will be too lazy to respond.  Sitting on the couch takes a lot out of me.

Posted in olympics, wine, ZJ

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