20060124

Aussie rules: football and other wine competitions

This is the time of year when wine blogs go sporty. Why not? The Super Bowl is a chance for a big party and a great reason to uncork some easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing wine. But, since I'm Canadian, I had the Grey Cup -- the championship of the CFL (Canadian Football League) -- back in November. It was an amazing title match, decided in overtime. For me, all this Super Bowl hype gets redistributed to my focusing on the Australian Open. Hence my discovery yesterday that tennis star, Conchita Martinez, Open finalist in 1998, is a tremendous wine lover.

Wine and tennis have in fact been on my mind a lot lately, and not just in the context of January sports parties or Conchita Martinez. I saw a stunning movie called Match Point on the weekend. In it, Londoners work on their forehands but never miss a moment to enjoy a drink, courtside or off the grounds. Never having been to Wimbledon, I wished I could've been there with movie's characters, sharing their expensive tastes.

The movie was set among upper-crust Londoners, which probably isn't my kind (or my wallet's). Naturally, I turn to thoughts of the wine scene at the Australian Open, assuming that Down Under, wine would be much more affordable and approachable, if slightly more commercial. Turns out I am right. The tournament has a well-known wine company as one of its sponsors. So quiz time once again, is it that winemaker:


  1. Jacob's Creek

  2. Wolf Blass

  3. Rosemount Estates

  4. Lindemans


The answer is (b) Wolf Blass. Upon further investigation, I realized this should come to no surprise to anyone. Wine conglomerate Beringer Blass has been mixing sport with wine for a long time running, sponsoring Aussie Opens and Aussie Rugby Unions. After a little googling, it seems like Wolf Blass is the sporting wine of choice hands down Down Under. The company promises that this alignment is a winning combination, giving their product exposure to a key demographic, and one that for the tennis fortnight in Melbourne "tends to attract white collar viewers and are not necessarily male or female oriented". Or so says this article. Interesting marketing. And here's another way Wolf gets to the sheep.

In fact, Wolf Blass product placement goes beyond Australia, as it did just last week in Los Angeles for "GDay in LA" week, where "one of America's great ... sporting institutions, UCLA, [was] taken over by Australians on January 15 with the Wolf Blass Aussie Festival ... On one of UCLA's sporting fields, the Swans and Kangaroos [played] an AFL sanctioned exhibition game..."

Regardless of their winning approach, brands like Wolf Blass do not end up winning me over. I remain fixed on French wines, which for the most part supply me with plenty of value for my money. But if the money was on the line tonight, I would overlook my fondness for French and, like Wolf Blass's roots, look to a German. An East German man, not wine, to be specific. That's because Germany's Nicolas Kiefer will be playing France's Sebastien Grosjean in the quaterfinals at the Open. I do prefer the French for their wine but for tennis, I have to go 100% German.

1 comment:

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