Last night was the first semi-final of the Rugby World Cup, and it was a crushing night for Wales, who lost by the smallest of margins to France.
I was with Oz Clarke, aussie wine journalist Nick Stock and Adrian Atkinson of Pernod Ricard, who were hosting us.
The evening began so well. We were in good spirits, buoyed by the prospect of a serious game of rugby. Things began with a nice early dinner by the waterfront in Soul Bar, washing down some rather tasty oysters and assorted bits of seafood with Brancott Estate B Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (highly aromatic, nicely complex and really well judged) and the richly textured quince and melon flavoured Brancott F Pinot Gris 2010.
Then it was off to the game. This was my first visit to Eden Park, which has been recently redevoloped, and the atmosphere was great. But we were stunned when a short time into the game Wales captain Sam Warburton was sent off. He tackled a French player, lifted him off the ground, and then dropped him. It wasn’t legal, but a sending off seemed massively harsh, and it spoiled the game a bit.
Wales battled hard and came agonizingly close. They were the better team, but it was a poor game. You have to feel for them. I’m hoping tonight’s encounter will offer a lot more. I’ll be cheering for the All Blacks, not least because the next few days as we head off to wine country will be a lot more good spirited if the Kiwis win.