Rugby World Cup Tasting – October 2023

For this tasting we presented two wines from each of the countries that had reached the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup. The wines tasted were:


A lower alcohol sparkling wine made by classic bottle fermentation. This is a light joyous drink with a hint of strawberries and raspberries, delicate and tangy with a soft blush tint. Produced as a simple, young, natural wine made with minimal interference, fermented to 10% alcohol.

Vines were first planted at Nutbourne in 1979 by one of the early pioneers of wine grape growing in this country. Since 1991 it has been owned, managed and expanded by the Gladwin family. The “Terroir” at Nutbourne is a unique and ideal wine growing environment – a warm microclimate protected by the South Downs, gentle south-facing slopes and the same fertile green sand soil as the Champagne region in France. There are 26 acres under vine.  ABV 10%.  £19.95 from Partners in Wine.


Sussex Reserve is the taste of Nutbourne, made from a field blend of Bacchus, Reichensteiner and Pinot Noir grapes to produce a distinctive, elderflowery, crisp, dry white wine – perfect as an aperitif or with lighter meals.  ABV 12%.  £14.95 from Partners in Wine.


The Skeetfield Vineyard has old vine dry-farmed Mendoza Chardonnay vines. The fruit was hand-picked and whole bunch pressed with minimal settling. This wine was 100% barrel fermented and matured, with 60% new Taransaud French oak.  Indigenous ferment and malo-lactic ferment have provided complexity and depth. Battonage on lees has yielded a superb textural quality. Minimal handling to bottling has preserved the purity and intensity of the wine.  Region – Hawkes Bay.  ABV: 13.5%.  £40.


At almost 5,000 feet elevation in the Andean foothills, the Adrianna vineyard’s calcareous soils and cool climate are the promised land of Chardonnay. The fruit from the Adrianna vineyard has a purity of flavours and a minerality that is particular to this vineyard and cannot be found anywhere else in Mendoza. The nearby, gravel-covered Domingo Vineyard makes up 20% of the blend.

Whole clusters are pressed, and then 100% fermented in 500 L French oak barrels with natural yeasts at low temperatures. 12-24 days fermentation. Battonage (low regime). Wild yeasts. 30% does not undergo malolactic fermentation. Aging: 14 months in French oak (in contact with the lees). Barrels of First, Second and Third use.  ABV 13.7%.  £19.99 from Majestic.


The wine is made from a blend of seven, sustainably farmed parcels from across the Swartland. Two are grown on the stony schist-based soils of the Kasteelberg: one parcel of 41-year-old Chenin Blanc and a parcel of 11-year-old Grenache Blanc. This soil lends a mineral freshness to the wine. Two parcels of 40–65-year-old, dry land, bush vine Chenin Blanc, one parcel of 44-year-old Clairette Blanche and a 60-year-old heritage Semillon Gris vineyard are grown on the decomposed granite of the Paardeberg. The age of the vines, and the granite content in the soil, results in concentrated, complex wines with lifted acidity. The final parcel is 21-year-old Viognier grown on the iron rich soils of the rolling hills west of Malmesbury.  Founded by Chris and Andrea Mullineux in 2007, this winery is now one of the most lauded in South Africa. Named ‘Winery of the Year’ five times by the Platter Guide in 2014, 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2023, Mullineux were also Tim Atkin MW’s ‘South African Winemakers of the Year’ in 2016. ABV 14%.  £26.99 from Quaff.


A premium single-vineyard Pinot Noir from Marlborough, this is sumptuous and soft with layers of succulent dark red berry and plum fruit and a generous shake of spice. Rich, velvety and silky smooth, made with hand-picked fruit from 12-15 year-old vines, sourced from a single vineyard at Dillons Point.  Machine-harvested, clone fruit from clay-influenced soils in Dillons Point, fully destemmed and fermented to 13.5% ABV, the wine aged in seasoned French oak barrels.  £19.99 from Quaff.


Located in the Hemel-en-Aarde on petrified sand dunes, Ataraxia was founded in 2004 by husband-and-wife team Kevin and Hanli Grant. A former Zoologist, Kevin spent years getting to know the intricacies of Hemel-en-Aarde`s terroir as head winemaker of Hamilton Russel. Ataraxia is a deeply personal project for Kevin. along with some dear friends, he purchased 50 hectares of prime vineyard land in an exceptional landscape, known as `The Skyfields`. Nestled on this commanding rise beneath the soaring Babylons Toren mountain range, the vineyards are planted on some of the most spectacular terroir South Africa has to offer. It is a place where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay make their natural home, and where wines of incredible finesse, balance and depth are crafted, proudly holding their own in the international arena.  A blend of around 50% Pinotage, 25% Pinot Noir and 25% Cinsault, this is a complex, smoky, grown-up wine, ABV 13%.  £26.99 from Quaff


Nicola Catena planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza in 1902. His grandson, Nicolás Catena, is known as the man who revolutionized Argentine wine and introduced high altitude Malbec to the world. The Historic Catena Zapata vineyards are planted with the Catena family’s proprietary selection of malbec plants: the Catena Cuttings. Catena Alta Malbec is sourced from Lot 18 of the Angélica vineyard, Lot 4 of the La Pirámide vineyard, Lot 1 of the Nicasia vineyard, Lot 6 of the Angélica Sur vineyard and Lot 9 of the Adrianna vineyard.

Vineyard lots are harvested at different times to ensure optimal natural acidity and moderate alcohol levels. Whole berries are hand loaded into small format fermentation bins and 225-500 L barrels; lots from each vineyard are treated individually; fermentation and maceration last for 15-22 days; cold maceration. Wild yeasts. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in barrel; wine undergoes active battonage to protect it and drastically reduce the amount of SO2 needed. Aged for 12-18 months in French oak.  ABV 13.8%. £24.99 from Majestic.

Accompanied by:
Breadsticks, crackers, smoked mackerel pate, green olives, sausage, biltong, Manchego cheese, cheddar cheese, goats cheese, almonds and walnuts

Winner of the vote was South Africa (wines 5 and 7), so we correctly predicted the actual event result.