Many readers will be aware that Poland is currently hosting the largest sports events of its history, the 2012 European football championship. Up to 1m tourists are expected to visit and it’s an organisational challenge. At the same time, it’s great fun, and Warsaw is really buzzing in these days.
The football craze has inevitably invaded the wine trade too. Merchants offer special championship mixed cases (one bottle each from participating countries, with the necessary exception of Sweden and Ireland), and wine bars have been fitted with large screens. I’m actually hosting some mini tutored tastings at one such bar, and we’ve had great fun watching the games with good wine instead of bad beer (which is what you get in the official fanzones).
Actually some serious bottles have been uncorked so far. On Friday for the Poland vs Greece opening game, I’ve breached some good Greek wines from my reserve, including the 1999 Trilogia from Christos Kokkalis, a garage Cab–Aghiorghítiko blend that apparently is even termed the ‘Le Pin of Greece’. It’s a pretty good wine, still tight with grainy tannins at age 12 – a surprisingly powerful wine with still some life ahead. The quality of fruit is also excellent, and it’s one of the better (though not very ‘Greek’) reds I’ve had from Greece recently.
Yesterday, Spain vs Italy provided an excuse to open some top stuff, although Spanish wines underperfomed including a soupy, alcoholic and utterly boring 2008 Alabaster from Teso La Monja (couldn’t finish my first glass; my compassion to those who pay 100€ for a bottle of this), and Peter Sisseck’s 2007 Quinta Sardonia was only a little better with some Cabernet Sauvignon freshness but similarly pruney and overripe; certainly not the type of wine you’d like to sip in quantity during 90 minutes.
The natural freshness of many Italian wines works better in front of the telly, although Domenico Clerico’s 2007 Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra was so tight and tannic it provided little enjoyment. But Bruno Giacosa’s 1995 Barbaresco Asili (white label) was a stunningly beautiful wine, with that sort of effortless drive and real elegance great Nebbiolo is capable of. This wine also costs in the region o 80–90€ but at least it delivers.
Then someone brought an out-of-theme bottle, a Margaux from France… but we couldn’t say no to the 1990 Palmer that with half an hour airing time, was just a brilliant chunk of old-style Bordeaux, 12% alcohol but perfectly ripe, concentrated, meaty and assertive with excellent underlying freshness. If this trend continues I’ll be drinking 1797 Yquem and 1921 Margaux during the final.