If it’s Monday, it must be Marks & Sparks, if it’s Tuesday it must be Tesco….Yes, this year’s crop of supermarket and high street press tastings seemed even more bunched together than usual. As night followed day, so Asda followed Aldi and Marks followed Morrisons as their revolving doors welcomed the wine press before spitting us, dazed and confused, back onto the street. On the plus side, this lack of consideration for the wine writer’s schedule, teeth and gums, did at least offer a snapshot of the new Spring / Summer showcases.
Oh lord, could this really be our last day already? I needed another week of this and I don’t think I was alone. After waking to a spectacular sunrise over the ocean and a traditional Japanese breakfast, an onsen spa dip put me in the mood for a gentle cruise flitting through endless small islands and oyster farms in the gentle waters of Matsushima Bay.
Yesterday’s rice washing had been great fun, if not for the brewery, and because allowing a group in and involving them in one of the sake-making processes was so exceptional, the story was reported in the Yamagata Shinbun the next day http://yamagata-np.jp/news/201502/25/kj_2015022500523.php. Fortunately my blushes were spared as the photo that accompanied the news story was not the one of me tipping rice into the wrong container but into the rice steamer.
By now accustomed to earlyish morning starts, we were driven at 8.30 am to Tendo City in Yamagata Prefecture for a morning visit to Dewazakura brewery, to be followed by a hands-on soba-making class. I was particularly excited at the prospect of visiting Dewazakura as I have very much enjoyed their sakes in the UK.
Checking out of our hotel on the dot of at 8.20am (well, this is Japan), we took the one-hour drive to Yonetsuru Brewery in Takahata on a chartered bus. We had to arrive by 9.30 am because that’s when the rice-steaming starts and rice-steaming waits for no-one.
Sake Brewery Tours set the scene but could the summary of what to expect live up to expectations?
In 2004, Robert Parker, the world’s leading wine critic (after The Wine Gang, that is) predicted the shape of the wine world a decade later, saying ‘predictions are often carelessly thrown together lists, since few people remember them 10 years later.
The CIVC, the official body that represents Champagne worldwide, is taking Rachel Jayne Powell, aka @ChampagneJayne, to court in Melbourne for tarnishing the good name of Champagne. It points the finger at misleading / deceptive conduct in using the name Champagne Jayne while also promoting other sparkling wines. Quelle horreur. It also suggests that by using the name Champagne Jayne, she has presented herself as an approved representative of the Champagne industry. Quel chutzpah.
In front of a packed gathering of the luminaries of the tapas bar world at Ibérica Marylebone, London, Wednesday night, Anthony Rose and Isabel Cuevas launched the much-awaited Tapas Bar Guide.
Executive chef César García of Ibérica, designed a fabulous menu of tapas and pinchos for the occasion, washed down with Mahou beer and wines from Torres, González Byass and Codorníu.
I know, I know….I committed myself at the end of my last piece to recommending some fizz for V Day. Why? I’m not St.Valentine’s greatest fan. Time was when I could – did - wax lyrical about a Beaujolais Saint Amour, or a Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses.
But there’s only so much St. Amour a man can hold down. As for Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, whatever the erotic story behind the wine, when was the last time you could afford one of the most expensive premier cru red Burgundies going?