This Olympics is epic in that it is the first time in history the games have their own official wine. UK wine merchant Bibendum was given the job of selecting the wines – a white, a rose and a red. The decision making didn’t come without controversy as the commercial director insisted the wines be from the 2012 vintage to avoid having confusion of the vintage date and 2012 Olympic date both on the bottle. In addition, since the wines would be available in event areas, they had to be contained in recyclable PET bottles and the alcohol level had to be lower than normal to promote responsible drinking (11.5% instead of around 13%).
To make the deadline, the wines had to be from somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere and the grapes had to be picked early by a couple of weeks. For the white that meant the potential of too much acidity and green flavors. To overcome this winemakers fermented the wine with yeast strains from sauvignon blanc to enhance the aromatics knowing full well the wine would be drunk soon, age-worthiness not being a factor.
So what wines made the cut? The white and rose are from Stellenrust, the largest Fair-trade wine estate in South Africa located in the oldest, most respected region of Stellenbosch. The white is a Chenin Blanc that is easy drinking with tropical notes and just a hint of acidity. The rose is a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Merlot.
The red is from Seival Estate in Brazil, a nod to the 2016 Olympics. It’s a blend of Shiraz and Tempranillo with a dash of Gamay Nouveau to keep the otherwise earthy wine vibrant and lively.
If I were lucky enough to be at the Olympics, I’d have the white while watching beach volleyball, the rose while watching swimming and the red while cheering on the gymnasts.
Go Team USA!