New Zealand may have thrashed England on the cricket pitch earlier but yesterday the two countries went head to head with a strong team of sparkling wines each in Wellington and London, as eleven ‘players’ plus a twelfth man from each displayed a more even set of results. Hosted by New Zealand Winegrowers, Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, the ‘Battle of the Bubbles’ was played out in Wellington, with Team Captains Oz Clarke for England and Master of Wine Jane Skilton for New Zealand participating in a blind tasting of the two countries’ wines. The wines were tasted in pairs.
The results were a comfortable dead heat between the two – six wines from both sides each winning their round. An English wine, Wyfold Brut 2010 from Oxfordshire, owned by Barbara Laithwaite, was crowned ‘Player of the Match’. Julia Trustram Eve, Marketing Director of English Wine Producers, added: “England can hold its head up high after this particular encounter with New Zealand. I’m really proud that in both tastings, the ‘Player of the Match’ was an English sparkling wine – congratulations to Wyfold and Hambledon!”
Over in London a ‘friendly’ match between the same two teams was played out, hosted at New Zealand House. The event captured the attention of a good mix of wine writers, sommeliers and industry professionals, who tasted all the wines blind and were asked to vote for their best team and top wine (‘Player of the Match’). This time the overall win went to England, with the ‘Player of the Match’ another English wine: Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV from Hampshire – a pertinent winner, given its historical cricketing connections.
Commenting on the results, Chris Stroud, Marketing Manager (Europe) of New Zealand Winegrowers said: “It was a hard fought match and a great result for both teams. There were some high quality wines on both sides showing that these two cool climate countries on opposite sides of the globe are capable of producing world-class bubbles.”
The final results from Wellington (including the ‘12th man’) in alphabetical order were:
Akarua Rosé Brut Central Otago NV – New Zealand
Ambriel English Reserve Demi Sec NV – England
Coates & Seely Blanc de Blancs NV – England
Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV – England
Henners Brut Reserve 2010 – England
Huia Brut Marlborough 2009 – New Zealand
Nautilus Cuvée Brut Marlborough NV – New Zealand
No. 1 Family Estate No. 1 Cuvée Blanc de Blancs Marlborough NV – New Zealand
Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2007 – England
Osawa Prestige Collection Méthode Traditionnelle Hawke's Bay NV – New Zealand
Tohu Rewa Blanc de Blancs Marlborough 2011 – New Zealand
Wyfold Brut 2010 – England – “Player of the match”
The sporting calendar kicked off this year with the ICC Cricket World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand. To kick-off the celebrations, New Zealand sparkling wine will compete with English sparkling wine in the “Battle of the Bubbles” on Thursday 19th February in Wellington, the day before the two teams meet for real on the cricket pitch!
Each country has selected a top team of eleven players, plus a ‘twelfth man’, to go head to head with each other in a blind taste off. The team captains for each side: Oz Clarke for England and Jane Skilton MW for New Zealand, will be out in Wellington and head up a panel of wine writers, commentators and cricketing internationals to select the winners in the competition, which will then be announced at an evening reception.
“This promises to be a thrilling match,” commented Oz Clarke. “Both countries are now world-renowned for the quality of their fizz and to meet head to head in this keenly-anticipated match will certainly highlight the fabulous quality of these two nations’ wines.We don’t anticipate any sledging or intimidatory tactics, because that simply wouldn’t be cricket. But, of course, this isn’t cricket is it? Perhaps I’ll take my box after all.”
The ‘battle’ will also be held in London on Thursday 19th February in New Zealand Penthouse where the invited guests and media can have their say and vote for the winning team and select a ‘man of the match’ award.
Check out the team below: