As a rugby obsessed country the Rugby World Cup (RWC), hosted by Japan, is a time of celebration, expectations and sometimes heartbreak, but above all there is hope. This is our chance to showcase The All Blacks, our culture and our talent on the world stage. As favourites (once again), it is New Zealand’s chance to make history as the first Country to obtain the fabled 3peat - 3 consecutive victories.
Since moving to the UK it is acceptable that you may not know all of the All Blacks in the RWC squad. So we have come up with a way to explain who these All Blacks are by matching them with something you will be familiar with… New Zealand Wine!
Just a wee ==== The starting XV may be different to our list below & it was super hard to miss out some of our favourites from the list and the same goes for the New Zealand wine matches. We simply couldn’t creating a “Starting XV” without missing out some of our favourites.
Joe Moody has some age and experience behind him. The 30 year old has 31 test caps and is crucial to the success of the dominant All Black scrum. The Villa Maria 2013 is a textured Merlot that also benefits from its (bottle) age and is a wine that is very powerful upfront. The Merlot’s rich dark fruits and spice is integrated seamlessly - Just like Moody within the All Blacks.
Dane Coles has taken a role that has traditionally been played by guys that are big & powerful and not always the most skilled (sorry old timers!). Coles has changed the role of the Hooker with his darting runs, silky skills and by getting around the park and popping up at the right time. With 11 test trys to his name, Dane Coles always seems to find himself on one of the wings at the right time. It is no surprise we have chosen Sparkling wine the “celebration wine” as his perfect match.
Nepo Laulala is the younger brother of Casey Laulala who played for the All Blacks from 2004 - 2007. Nepo is a little younger than his propping partner Moody but still has plenty of caps under his belt. Nepo’s key strengths lie in his power and dominance at scrum time. Viognier is a great match for Laulala because it is often described as a white wine for red wine drinkers. The bases of this description is on the varieties oily mouthfeel giving it the perception of a big wine with plenty of length. The Millton Viognier is a fine example that showcases the varietals signature apricots and ginger characteristics.
Big and burly, something that can be used to describe Brodie Retallick and Cabernet Sauvignon. Brodie’ role on the All Blacks is to dominate with strength and keep the structure of the forward pack. Retallick is world class - receiving the World Rugby Player of the Year in 2014 and is the award's youngest winner to date. Te Mata’s Coleraine can also boast awards such as being the first New Zealand wine listed on Decanter’s wine legends for their 1998 vintage.
Retallick’s longtime locking partner Sam Whitelock makes the start for our 1st XV. Just like Brodie, Sam brings strength, structure and is the backbone of the All Blacks forward pack. We have chosen to match Sam with Pegasus Bay’s Sauvignon Semillon particularly because of the wines addition of Semillon. Semillon is often added to white Bordeaux because of its ability to improve the wines texture and mouthfeel and increase the ageing potential. We’re not saying Sam is old, but the 30 year old certainly has aged well since bursting onto the All Blacks scene in 2010.
Hard hitting and not afraid of contact or nimble with a well balanced game? How about both... Ardie has made a name for himself by bringing a tonne of contact to collisions and by also being a master of getting over the ball with strength and quickness to get steals for his team at the breakdown. Makes sense then that we have matched his game to Ata Rangi’s Chardonnay. Craighall isn’t afraid of (oak) contact with its big style but shows also shows balance and finesse with its well integrated fruit character.
The All Blacks have always seemed to have a number 7 that is world class and consistently helps the team win with a high work rate and skills at the breakdown other countries can’t seem to replicate. No surprises then that Sam Cane is made in the same mould. If we are talking work rate in the New Zealand wine industry we have to be talking about Sauvignon Blanc! Easily the most planted grape in the country with over 75% of the 2019 vintage. Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is the poster child of consistency thanks to its iconic characters that other countries can’t replicate. For a consistent overachiever we reach for Dog Point Sauvignon.
The All Black Captain shouldn’t need much of an introduction. For those that are unaware of Read’s bruising ball carries or expertise in defence and turn over ball there is one thing to know… Kieran Read is a workaholic on the field and has played himself into the conversation of the greatest All Black number 8 of all time… That is a lot of pressure on Craggy Range’s Syrah to match right? So what’s the similarities here? Both are full bodied with a lightly spice and we really really like them!
Zippy little pocket rocket with sweetness to match. Aaron Smith maybe the best number 9 in the game thanks to his expertise marshaling the troops in the forward pack around the park and his ability to feed the backs with his world class pass. Petit Manseng is a variety not often associated with NZ but the variety seems to be particularly well suited on the Churton vineyard where its complex aromatics start sweet but finnish long and dry. The Churton Petit Manseng also happens to come in a slightly smaller frame (500ml)... see what we did there ;)
A lot of All Black fans might be a little confused why Beauden hasn’t appeared in his regular number 10 spot here… well he did make the team, but we decided to stick with the combination the All Blacks ran out in their recent test matches against Australia and South Africa with Barrett at 15. So Mo’unga for those not “in the know” what does he add? Composure, technical finesse and tactical genius. Richie is the right man to be leading an All Blacks team. That brings us to Kumeu River Chardonnay. A Chardonnay that constantly performs on the world stage (and has been known to beat white Burgundy in blind tastings). Mate’s in particular is a Chardonnay that is regarded for its technical finesse, balance and its ability to improve with age… If Mo’unga can follow Mate’s example things are looking good for the young 24 year old fly half!
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Just like Riesling… Sevu Reece has been pinned as the next great thing. At just 22 years old, Reece has shown great speed and an ability to get over the line from the moment he burst onto the New Zealand Rugby scene. Look for Sevu to be finishing plenty of trys during RWC 2019. With Sevu’s potential we had to match him with the Seresin Riesling. The Seresin Riesling is a fine dance between crisp acidity and extreme sweetness similar to a certain All Black darting down the sideline staying in the field of play...
With Sonny Bill Williams we can expect a few things, Big strong runs, crunching tackles and of course his signature off-loads drawing multiple defenders and putting teammates into space. Greywacke’s Wild Sauvignon is a wine that on the surface reflects New Zealand’s most iconic varietal with vibrant aromatics, lemon zest and dried herbs. But take another look and you will see the “off-load” up its sleeve… The wild yeast and oak influences give this wine a savoury palate with sweet vanilla, asian spices and apricots - all finished with crisp acidity.
First thing is first, we LOVE Goodhue’s mullet! And if that is not the sole reason to name him in our starting XV then I guess we better talk about what he brings on the field. Goodhue is the glue that keeps the All Blacks backline in sync on defense and is the spark that runs off shoulders and hits gaps in the oppositions defence. Think “Conrad Smith like” but 13 years younger and still with a tonne of toe! So why are we matching Goodhue with a big Hawke’s Bay red? Because of the delicate integration of the Bordeaux varieties that all compliment each other to create a better wine. Exactly what Jack Goodhue does within the All Blacks backline.
Ben Smith AKA “Ben from Accounts” usually the trusted Fullback. Renowned for his excellent under the high ball and even better as the last line of defence has been moved over the right wing in this starting XV. Just like trusty Ben Smith, with Pinot Gris in New Zealand we know what we are going to get. This Framingham Pinot Gris is bursting with pears and baked apple with a silky texture and typical NZ Pinot Gris mouthfeel.
Introducing the Superstar of New Zealand Rugby. Beauden is famous around the world for his exciting style of play and ability to break the game open. This won’t be any different operating at the back, in fact he might find himself with a little more space to run rampant. So for Barrett’s wine match we move south… soo south in fact it is the world’s most southerly place to grow grapes. Central Otago is home to a number of amazing wineries making NZ’s most planted red wine - Pinot Noir. We have selected Mt Difficulty here because it is the most popular of all the Pinot we list, just like our boy Beaudy. With Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir expect complexity, dark cherry, black fruits and sweet spice.
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