The Rugby World Cup has been the talk of the office for the last 6 weeks and as this weekend sees the competition draw to a close, we thought it appropriate to host our own short awards ceremony celebrating the top moments of this year’s event.

Team of the tournament - New Zealand

Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc ‘Black Edition’, Marlborough, New Zealand 2013 - £25.45

While the competition will ultimately be decided on Saturday, there is no doubt that in the past few weeks the team from the land of the long white cloud have looked supremely dominant. A potent mix of pace, power and unbelievable skills, it will take a mighty performance from Australia to prevent the All Blacks winning back-to-back trophies.

Much like the New Zealand team, this range from the team at Little Beauty comes clad in All Black.
The ‘Black Edition’ is produced using only the best grapes on the Little Beauty Marlborough estate. The wines are then aged carefully in French oak in order to add extra weight and depth, giving them an added dimension compared to the other Little Beauty vintages. This Sauvignon Blanc is produced from a single vineyard in the Waihopai Valley, drawing fruit from three carefully identified parcels. The final result is a complex wine that offers something different from a standard Sauvignon Blanc. The fact it is fermented with 100% wild yeast in French Oak tapers the sharp acidity that is often associated with this variety; the Black Edition instead carries a creamy, mellow texture.

Surprise of the tournamentJapan

Shiraume Umeshu (Plum-Infused), Akashi-Tai 50cl - £17.40

There is no question who the outstanding underdogs of this tournament have been. Japan caused arguably the biggest World Cup upset in history when they defeated South Africa in their opening tie. Much to everyone’s surprise, they managed to maintain that form to record another 2 victories as they became the first side in history to win three matches and still fail to qualify for the knockout stages. The 2019 World Cup will be staged in Japan and on this evidence the Cherry Blossoms may well be a force to be reckoned with. 

As wine merchants, many would be surprised by the fact we have a Japanese section to our portfolio. However, when we first came across the produce of Akashi-Tai Sake Brewery, we knew we wanted to get involved. Akashi-Tai is a boutique sake producer based in Akashi City, a fishing town in western Japan. The brewery has been producing premium Sake and Umeshu for over 150 years under the ownership of the Yonezawa family.

Akashi-Tai pride themselves on maintaining a handcrafted approach to creating the finest Japanese sake.  While protecting these traditional methods, the Yonezawas are also exploring new ideas and innovative flavours, such as their distinctive brown rice sake and plum-infused Umeshu. The Sakes are versatile, providing fantastic pairings with a variety of different dishes – not only those that are Asian influenced.

Most Improved team - Argentina

Quinto Malbec, Riglos, Valle de Uco, Argentina 2012 - £17.90

Since their move to join the Tri-Nations (the Southern Hemispheres equivalent of the Six Nations) in 2012 and expand the competition to four teams, Argentina have steadily improved, to the extent they are now one of the most dynamic and exciting teams on the world scene. Their destruction of Ireland showcased their combination of vibrancy in attack and robust forward play, attributes that in many ways are shared by the wines from our friends at Riglos Estate in Tupungato.

A fairly new venture, headed by a combination of businessmen and oenology experts, the team at Riglos produce unbelievably complex wines, particularly considering that the majority of their vines are still under 10 years old. The combination of intense fruit concentration and an under-stated quality is impossible to ignore and it is unsurprising that these wines are quickly gaining recognition as being among the best from the region.


Biggest Individual Impact - Craig Joubert (South Africa)

Papegaai, A.A Badenhorst, Swartland, South Africa 2014 - £12.35

Joubert shot to infamy on these shores following his decision to award a contentious penalty against Scotland in their nail-biting quarter final defeat to Australia. The situation became more complicated in the aftermath of the game, as World Rugby announced that he had indeed made a mistake and that, had he applied the rules correctly, Scotland would have taken their place in the penultimate round of the competition.

In light of Joubert’s actions, we thought we would direct you towards something else from South Africa that bends the rules slightly…

Hein and Adi Badenhorst, the cousins who front up affairs for the team at AA Badenhorst wines, are very much at the forefront of the ‘New Wave South Africa’ movement that is sweeping across the country. Founded in 2007, this Swartland operation utilises modern winemaking techniques that allow them to experiment with the wonderful terroir that surrounds them.

They particularly push the boundaries with their ‘Papegaai’ cuvee, a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Marsanne. In our eyes their wines represent all that is good about “New Wave South Africa”, as winemakers are increasingly willing to stray from the conventional and experiment with their terroirs.