Mikuni Premium Wine Event at Diamond Hall, Tokyo, September 13, 2011

May 20, 2011 Riesling Ring, Imperial Hotel

The annual Riesling Ring in Tokyo gathers ‘the queen of white’ grapes from the four corners of the wine world.

Riesling Ring Trade Tasting at the Imperial Hotel (photo: Hiroshi Shoji)

A brilliant chance to taste Riesling at its best, in a variety of styles from different terroirs and climates. The levels of alcohol, dryness, ripeness and body will differ. However, the thread that carries through a good Riesling is the development of a petrol nose. Riesling changes from green apple, citrus, minerally youthfulness to a lusciously rich and rounded honeyed baked apples, yet still with a backbone of racy acidity.

Old World & New World Rieslings at the Imperial Hotel.

Pieroth’s Ch.Rauzan-Segla flight with food at Beige, Tokyo, March 8,2011

Beaux Freres’ Michael Etzel makes divine Oregon Pinot Noir wines.

Michael Etzel of Beaux Freres in Tokyo

On February 4, 2001, Michael Etzel, co- owner, wine maker and vineyard manager of Oregon’s Beaux Freres was in Tokyo giving at tasting at the Diamond Club for Nakagawa Wine Company.

Michael Etzel has a down home, folksy way about him, looking more like a country western singer than a city-slicker wine maker for one of the world’s top wineries.  Spinning his wine tale, he describes how a young and married country boy from Colorado Springs, Colorado while vacationing in Oregon had a life changing experience which led him to buy an 88 acre pig farm in Oregon and begin growing wine grapes.
Etzel says pretty soon he began a partnership with his sister’s husband. And who is his sister’s husband, but none other than the world’s most renowned and influential wine critic , Robert Parker, J.!   They called their winery Beaux Freres, the brothers-in-laws.
In 1991 a third partner, Robert Roy,  became one of the Beaux Freres.
Etzel says he is the wine maker and does all the work in the vineyard.  A look at his tanned face and tough workmen’s hands, it is very believable. “When the grapes come in we just let it ferment. We don’t add sugar, or tartaric acid or any acid.”
He added, “We do a traditional Burgundy fermentation style with open top vats, 2 tonnes, jacketed like this cup.” (holding up a tall paper beer cup). “It lets the heat and oxygen blow off,” Etzel say, “ Also we can pigeage with feet or with a big ladle.”
The grapes are picked at a 24 Brix, and are cold soaked, then heated with a glycol jacket, and the natural fermentation begins. Etzel doesn’t add supplements or nutrients. The fermentation temperature begins to climb as sugars eat the yeast so the temperatures climbs to 25c.“ As the wine ferments the Brix drops down to 10 Brix,  fermentation dried out to negative Brix.
He says that next, a high percentage goes into new French oak without settling. “All the gross lees and much go in the barrel,” says Etzel. “However, not the skins as they are removed during pressing.”
He notes that most winemakers let wine settle 24 hours and only fresh wine goes in, but at Beaux Freres they don’t rack or move the wine until bottling.
“Our So2 is the lowest of any commercial winery. Because we don’t move the wine around or filter it is has higher Co2.”
Because of this Etzel recommends decanting the wine, “The wine has 300 parts per million of Co2.  Winemaking universities recommend 250.”  Etzel chuckled “I was never a good student.”
Beaux Freres Label says it all.
Viticulture.
Beaux Freres is biodynamic with very low yields, and one bunch of grapes on one cane on vertical trellises, the same as a Grand Cru in Burgundy.
“At harvest time we taste and look at the seed, not really the sugar. But at 23 Brix the seed cannot be florescent green.  A ripe seed looks like a ripe banana, with the dark spots.”
The vineyard is marine sediment soil, unlike Burgundy ,which has high limestone content.  Etzel notes the slope is south and southeast with an elevation of 365 feet with 5,500 plants per hectare while Burgundy has 10,000.

The Importance of Trellising High

“In Burgundy the first fruiting wires are one foot off the ground, but my wires are two feet off the ground,” Etzel says standing up and demonstrating how the bunches at a higher level get more even sunshine all day.
“Have to be careful of the height of the trellis. If they are too close or too low there is too much shading on the grapes.”

The Costly Clones.

In the vineyard he uses Pommard/Vaud Swiss #2 clones, as Swiss clones have lots of red fruit character, “This clone is very challenging as it demands a specific sight.”
The Upper Terrace is Beaux Freres’ ‘pampered child vineyard’.  Etzel says, “Not the favorite child, but the most spoiled with care.” The vineyard was purchased in 1999 as a 40 acre forest, which was then planted with 10 acre vineyard one year after the purchase.
The vineyard is planted 5 different Pinot Noir Dijon clones on two different rootstocks to be Phylloxera resistant.  The difference between the regular Beaux Freres and Upper Terrace is the vines age and the clones.
The Upper Terrace is a very young vineyard, so the 2008 vintage was from vines that were only 8 years old.
“I believe a vineyard needs 15 years at least to express its terroir,” notes Etzel. “Recently, Oregon was allowed to create 5 new AVAs, and Beaux Freres is on Ribbon Ridge AVA.”

Oak Barrels-only the best with a medium toast.

Beaux Freres orders oak barrels as staves and let sthem air dry for another year. This gives the wood a much softer on its impact on the wine.  France has about 15 different forests for their wood used for barrels and Etzer says, “My  particular favorites are Voges,  Nevers and Allier.
He prefers a medium toast level. “Early years we used a heavier toast, but it was too smoky, too much of a barbeque flavor.  As the market has become more sophisticated, the market is moving away from a heavy toast.”
Seriously hand-selected corks

The reason for starting to be Biodynamic

“In the original Beaux Freres vineyard we had Phylloxera, “ and Etzel was told it could co-exist if he farmed it biodynamically.  Farming biodynamically slowed the growth of Phylloxera down. In 1988 Phylloxera was not an issue in Oregon, but 2-3 years later Phylloxera was discovered in Oregon and Etzel had already planted the first vineyards.
“In the old days we would buy rootstock for 35 cents each. Now they are $4.00 a piece, so to get 5,5000 plants to the hectare, plus trellising, wire posts is expensive.”
In the old days when rootstock was 35 cents each, you’d plant them directly into the ground. Now you buy cuttings from dormant plants, so I let a nursery grow them.
Etzel said he went to Burgundy to learn wine making,  modeling Beaux Freres after that they were doing, using the same fermenters, the same trellising, “Yes, I copied them. Now after 20 years of tweeking , it is to make Beaux Freres into Beaux Freres.”
The wines are ready for tasting

Vintages do matter when you are making wine naturally.

2007
This was a challenging harvest the winery began picking at 23 Brix, and then it was down to 21 Brix when they finished.  There was some delusion from rain so Etzel treated the wine like it was a white wine. “We didn’t want to extract bitterness from the seeds so we fermented at a lower white wine temperature. “
Etzel was gentle with pigeage (punching down) and put the wine into used oak barrels at a cool 23C fermentation. “Most fermentations are in the low 30s,” according to Etzel, “However, the danger of low temperatures is that you don’t get good color extraction.”
2008
2008 was the vintage of the century. “It seems we have a vintage of the century every 10 years,” laughed Etzel.  “We had little rain, but at the right time and not excessive hear. If it is 40 degrees Celsius it is hard on the vine and burns the skin.”
They did a barrel fermentation with no reduction and no sulfite products as 2008’s vintage’s must had all the nutrition.  Etzel says there was no reductive stink from not enough nutrients and here was 1% more alcohol than the previous vintage for Beaux Freres.
Every year Beaux Freres divides the vineyards into about 13 fermenters divided by clone or by when it is fermented. “There are 25 or more Pinot Noir clones,” Etzel jokes that clones are a plot by nurseries to make vineyard owns buy more.
Etzel says they take their corks  from Portugal seriously, using a super hand selecton so that only 1% of the corks have TCA.
The Flight of the Day

The Tasting Flight

Beaux Freres Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, 2007-Y10,000.
A medium pale garnet with an orange rim.  The nose is very full and rich with Burgundy style. Damson plums, forest floor, a hint of violets and mushrooms.  The flavors are similar to the nose. Very elegant and gracefully balanced with a silky, plum finish with hint of Asian spice.

Beaux Freres Pinot Noir, The Beaux Freres Vineyard, Ribbon Ridge, 2007-Y12,000.
Medium to deep ruby with a pink rim. The nose is of new oak and spicy beetroot. On the palate the wine seems to have more alcohol, with fresh black fruit, truffles, beetroot, savory tannins and a very long smooth finish.

Beaux Freres Pinot Noir, The Beaux Freres Vineyard, 2008 (the vintage of the century), Ribbon Ridge-Y12,000.
Medium to deep ruby with a pink rim. The nose is very similar to the Beaux Freres Vineyard 2007, but with more fruit (raspberries, cherries, blackberries, Damson plums) and complexity on the nose and palate. Silky tannins, full bodied with a long complex finish.

Beaux Freres Pinot Noir Upper Terrace, 2008, Ribbon Ridge- Y17,000
A deeper, shimmering ruby with a pink rim. More forest floor and barnyard on the nose, like a classic Burgundy. Racy, mouth-watering acidity, gritty tannins and lots of classic Burgundian beetroot, truffles and forest berries. Very long finish of grained satin ribbon. Definitely a wine that is for keeping and savoring for a special occasion.

Copyright 2011-Sandra Shoji,  サンドラ ショージ

Matching Japanese flavors with wine! It is the cooking and the sauce that matters.

Mami Whelehan of Pieroth, Japan

When wine was the new kid in Japan, questions always popped up with the question whether wine can go with Japanese food.  Now two decades later, people in Japan seem to have little problem drinking wine with all kinds of Japanese regional and international cuisine.

Yet, people still worry about matching wine and food so I asked Mami Whelehan, the P.R.Director of Pieroth, Japan for her expertise.

Whelehan has set up hundreds of elegant food and wine matching –meet the winemakers—dinners in Japan at some of Tokyo’s poshest restaurants. Her ability to match fine wines from around the world with a variety of cuisines inspires awe among picky wine and food writers in Tokyo.

Whelehan immediately noted that when people talk about Japanese food matching wine, most people are thinking about food that is eaten in a restaurant, not home food.

Visiting wine people are taken to restaurants and have their wines matched with exquisite dishes, but few have ever eaten in a Japanese household. “Sushi and Teppanyaki are restaurant foods, not home foods.”

How about Riesling?

According to Whelehan, German wine are great food wines, but their (Germany’s) promotion circle is conservative, which limits the number of people who can access their wines.

“That is why the tasting event ‘The Riesling Ring’ held each year in Tokyo is wonderful, because one fantastic grape which is made in many styles, by many wine regions and wine makers is showcased.”

German wines have the image of being too sweet, though they come in a variety of styles, are highly acidic, yet fruity to lusciously rich.

“However, young Japanese prefer soft, fruity and tender wines. They can’t cope with acidity as they are used to drinking Coke daily.”

German wines also have an advantage as Japanese women think of Germany as a romantic country with the Romantic road and famous composers. However, German names are almost impossible to pronounce.

WINE AND FOOD MATCHING—it is the cooking and the sauce that determines the wine.

Avocado,Kobosu, Soy Sauce & Wasabi

 

Mami Whelehan then led us through an experiment with little saucers of:

Avocado
Kobosu (citrus)
Soy sauce
Wasabi
&
Three glasses of winesfrom Argentina.
A white Torrentes
a rosé Malbec
a red Malbec

Whelehan said when matching food and wine the main key is to adjust the flavors and weight.

“For example, an avocado is fruity and creamy.  On its own, it goes with a nice medium Chardonnay or rosé. Both have similar body when matching food and wine.”

The best match in flavors and weight with plain, unadorned avocado was the rosé!

Next, we were asked to add some Kobosu juice to a small saucer containing avocado. The citrus gave the creamy avocado a citrus edge, which Whelehan said would demand a more acidic and edgy wine. The perfect match was the floral, but acidic Torrontes.

Our next experiement, we added some soy sauce to another saucer of avocado. Suddenly the best match was the Malbec.

Whelehan explained that the milky lactic acids in the Malbec from the secondary Malolactic fermentation matched the lactic acidity in the soy sauce.  Add a high quality wasabi to this mix, and the fruit in the Malbec cools and melds with the wasabi.

Whelehan’s next example was Shabu-Shabu, thin strips of tender pork swished through steaming water to cook it.

Serve the pork with a citrusy Ponzu sauce and the flavors become lighter, so a lighter wine would match.

Dip the cooked pork into an oiler & heavier Goma, creamy sesame sauce, and you hit the middle weight in wine.

Dip the pork in a spicy sauce and the matching wine would be a fruity red.

Whelehan said, “Also, think of what food tastes like when you cook it differently.  If you taste chicken, grilled without the skin and serve it with lemon juice, you can’t taste the chicken, only the lemon.”

Next she said, “The purpose of making wine was that it was to be drunk as a beverage with food. When we are drinking wine we are not just checking the wine, we are expecting a marriage, complimenting each other.”

“Sushi and Teppanyaki are restaurant foods, not home foods.  Something like Nikujaga ( Japanese stewed meat and vegetables) is traditional home cooked food and Malbec would suit it.   Malbec goes with a variety of food flavors and textures.  At my home we have tofu with olive oil, salt and Kobosu with Malbec.”

A few flavor changes, changes the wine.

WHELEHAN’S EXPERIMENTAL HOMECOOKED JAPANESE MENU

An experimental menu would be salmon as a starter with Malbec, as salmon is not a white fish.

Then have Goma Dofu (sesame seed tofu) with a good quality German white wine.

However, if you prefer Miso , of any color, with your food, then a red wine matches. For the salad, please–no pickled vegetables, instead use balsamic vinegar.

The next dish would be Tara (cod) and a heavy spicy sauce or a soy based sauce  which a Malbec would fit with the flavors and weight.

Then Malbec with Nikujaga as it has sugar and soy sauce . Or pork spareribs in soy sauce.

For dessert, so you think Japanese sweets only go with green tea?

Turns out that Daifuku, Omochi and Anko,  are terrific with German Kabinett level or Spatlese level wines! As the German wine grapes have been picked riper with fuller flavors, they still retain high acidity to cut through sweetness.

If Karinto, deep fried black sugar, is your kind of sweet, then a medium bodied red wine is your match, as in wine it is the fruit which provides the feeling of sweetness.

So basically a few wines have taken you through a whole Japanese home cooked  menu, complimenting and matching weight, acidity, spices and sweetness.  Gochi so sama deshita!

Copyright: Sandra Shoji 2011 サンドラ ショージ

Naked Champagne for the New Year

Naked Champagne for the New Year!  

Jean Francois Clouet Tokyo (photo-Hiroshi Shoji)

Jean Francois Clouet is everything the ideal French man should be. Boyishly handsome, full of Gallic shrugs, heart-felt pronouncements, huge smiles, and hilariously witty with a passion for Champagne and fast cars. Also, Jean Francois Clouet likes his Champagne– on a fur rug in front of a fireplace, with the finest caviar, but Champagne with fish is a folly!
Naked Champagne is bare of dosage– the cane sugar and older wine mixture added to most Champagne before it is sealed with a Champagne cork. His preference for Champagne in its purest form began as a rebellion against being bullied.
Clouet’s story came out abruptly during an interview when I inquired about his ‘family’.  Mistakenly, he thought I said ‘ farmer’ which ruffled his feathers. Clouet explained, “I have bad memories of being bullied at my village school by children from the big Champagne houses. My family was a small Champagne producer, Andre Clouet. They teased me calling me ‘the farmer’.”
However, Clouet listened carefully to his tormentors, as they boasted about the secret recipes behind their families’ Champagne blend of different vintages of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes. Stubbornly, Clouet decided to create a totally unique style, using only the region’s most difficult grape, Pinot Noir. “For me, Pinot Noir is ‘an experience’. It is not easy. Our family vineyard in Bouzy is located extremely well and expresses the purity of Pinot Noir.”
While Clouet’s family may have been called ‘farmers’, their ancestors were wealthy printers for France’s kings. He proudly remarks that his family also printed France’s first wine label.
“My brother and I never had any pocket money, so we had to borrow money for sweets from the Champagne house children,” Clouet says.  “But my father never stinted on money for education or sports.” Clouet’s first passion was for to become a footballer (soccer), especially as the Champagne houses sponsored France’s champion team of Reims.
But Clouet’s vision to create a perfect Champagne led to making his first Champagne in 1996.  ‘Wine is like an artist building a fantastic building. My life is absolutely nothing compared to a vineyard’s history.” In his opinion, ” In the last 100 years there have been three top vintages in Champagne. In my lifetime of 34 years there may have been only one or two best vintages.”
Clouet’s dream is to be able to make wine from a top vintage, putting his signature on a bottle that people will still be able to drink in 100 years.
Although he worries that with global warming the Champagne region may become too warm to produce Champagne. Already many Champagne houses have bought vineyard land in Southwestern England, on same Kimmeridgian clay soil belt the Champagne region.
Clouet uses an antique wine press, but says, “Organic is a joke. It is impossible to work the same way your ancestors did two hundred years ago. We are not in the same environment.  Work with nature, but involve some technology.”
Silver Brut Nature without dosage is Clouet’s work of art. “My Brut Nature is like a car.  If you drive a car at 250 kilometers per hour, you can make no mistakes. A wine maker can’t make mistakes with a Brut Nature.”
” The true test when judging the best Champagnes is to taste them at the lowest amount of sugar, when there is no sugar to cover their mistakes. Besides, too much sugar kills a healthy wine,” says Clouet.
Pouring silver bubbles (photo-Hiroshi Shoji0
Clouet is passionately strict about how to drink Silver Brut Nature. “Pinot Noir is an animal, so when you taste Champagne, no shower! You will be disturbed by the smell of your shampoo, so stay within the same pH as the body.”  He continues, “The best environment for enjoying Champagne is a fur rug, a fireplace, a dish of the best caviar and a blonde with the silver blue eyes of the Scandinavian sky.”  While a girlfriend introduced him to caviar with Champagne, he declares, “Champagne with fish is a folly.”
Clouet often compares his wines to cars, “I have many cars. Once when I had finished working and I was dirty, the car salesman didn’t wait on me. So I told him I wanted the top BMW in his shop in my courtyard by the next morning.  Later when I got home my mother said I would be killed for owing a car like that.  Later when I had to fly to Cyprus the car was stolen from my driveway.”
Clouet say his family’s first break was conquering the Scandinavian market. Scandinavians drink more Andre Clouet than any other Champagne.  “Our price was perfect and soon we were in 600 shops in Scandinavia without doing any marketing.” Clouet was proud when his family’s Champagne went on the wine list at El Bulli’s in Spain, selected as the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine.
On his travels, Clouet discovered his Champagne tasted different in different countries. Recently, in while high humidity climates like Japan and Taiwan, He noted his Silver Brut Nature seemed sweeter.
Good news for Clouet is that his Champagnes are even more in demand, but harder for his Japanese importer to get allotments for.  Good news for wine lovers in Japan is that the prices tend to be lower for Clouet than abroad.

Star Picks to toast for New Year’s 2011:
Silver Brut Nature
Pale gold with a pinkish tinge, this wine’s tiny bubbles cavort endlessly in the glass. The nose is packed with freshly baked bread, dried fruit, lemons and ripe apples. The blend is Grand Cru vineyard 100% Pinot Noir grapes with no older vintages or cane sugar added. As thrilling as driving a Porsche.

Grande Reserve Brut NV
Basically, Silver Brut, but no longer naked.  A slight dosage intensifies the baked apples, lightly toasted honey cake and lemon flavors. It handles like vintage, black Jaguar.

Millesime 2002
To his beloved Pinot Noir, Clouet has added full-bodied Chardonnay. This style is intensely luscious with pear, nut and brioche flavors. Keep this wine in a cool place until New Year’s Day. Perfect for sipping in a chauffeured Rolls Royce.

(Copyright 2011, Sandra Shoji , サンドラ ショージ)

Wine and Mushrooms, Japan’s Sensual Magic!

Autumn in Japan is mushroom heaven.

Rural biking expeditions on narrow Japanese foothill roads edged with maple trees lead into chilly pine forests. What seems to be stacks of neatly cut firewood are nurseries for  Shiitake mushrooms.

Wine and mushrooms are sensual magical friends. The key is pheromones, chemical equivalents to hormones. Pinot Noir’s earthy, forest floor, spice and musk odors are said to mimic male androstenone. Mushrooms have lots of protein and B vitamins.

 

In Japan they are the perfect antidote to steamy summers that wring the life out of people.Pinot Noir’s ancestral home of Burgundy is home to pricy pungent truffles sniffed out by truffle pigs and truffle dogs. Burgundy’s cuisine is packed with   soul-satisfying fungi dishes that put some meat on your bones in preparation for winter. Mushroom or truffle omelets, mushroom and chestnut stuffed roasted fowl or beef. Mushroom stews or large raviolis plump with duck stuffing floating in broth speckled with shaved truffles.
The natural wine match is Burgundy’s red wine grape, Pinot Noir, smelling of forest floor and wild things. However, Burgundy’s other red grape is Gamay, which in Japan is known for the loads of drink-up soon Beaujolais Nouveau that hit these shores each November like clock-work. However, some wine shops do carry Beaujolais from one of Beaujolais’s top ten villages from small wineries. These can be velvety rich with an edge of cherry, especially with a few years of maturity.
Mushroom & Wine Breakfast at Tasting Australia (photo-Hiroshi Shoji)
Autumn in Japan have restaurants celebrating the return of cool weather with mushroom tempura, Chawanmushi—a steamed egg custard and Matsutake Gohan, rice steamed with Matsutake (pine) mushrooms.
Tiny, earthenware or China teapots of fragrant Dobinmushi appear in restaurants and at home. The pale broth is served in a tiny teapot (dobin)and topped with an even tinier inverted cup holding an even tinier wedge of a citrus called yuzu. It is enough to make you feel like you are at Alice’s tea party with the Mad Hatter.
Floating in the dobin’s broth are usually two ginko nuts, a slice of fish cake, a shrimp, a smidgeon of skinless chicken and a dainty sprig of mitsuba a Japanese wild parsley. The crowning glory is a single slice of delicate Matsutake pine mushroom whose price of Y15,000 and up for three mushrooms at a local farmer’s market is enough to make you want to go into the business of Matsutake growing
For those who can afford to buy whole Matsutake mushrooms, the tradition is to cut them in half lengthwise and grill them over smokeless charcoal, and serve with a squeeze of the citrus Sudashi.
The key to matching Japanese mushroom dishes with wine is gauging the mushrooms’ meatiness and flavors. Delicate Dobinmushi would be overwhelmed by an oaky, buttery Chardonnay, but might work with an unoaked, dry Chablis. Yet, if your mushrooms are button type and in a creamy white sauce, then a buttery Chardonnay is a perfect choice.
However, dobinmuchi’s lemony yuzu and celeryleaf-like mitsuba (trefoil) better suits a young, cool-climate Riesling. Pale gold as late autumnal sunlight, Riesling’s citrus, apple or Asian peach flavors, low alcoholic content and higher acidity make it a terrific food wine. Cooler climate Rieslings have more citrus, stone and green apple flavors, while warmer climate Rieslings are rounder and with peach nuances.
German Kabinett (level of ripeness) Rieslings are off-dry with lower alcohol and zippy high acidity. Young Rieslings from Austria, Alsace and New Zealand are still crisp, but with higher levels of alcohol. Those from Australia and Washington State tend to be fuller flavored with more body.
Meatier mushroom dishes like Mushroom Risotto,Portobello or Shiitake mushrooms stuffed with bread crumbs and cheese find a nice match with a bold Barolo from Italy’s northwest Piedmont, made from the king of Italian grapes, Nebbiolo.
Tomato and mushroom dishes need wines that can handle the acidity in tomatoes. The classic match is the Sangiovese grape, whose most famous wine is Chianti Classico from Tuscany, Italy.  Recently, Sangiovese is also popping up in Australia and California.
Few white wines match tomato dishes. Yet, Austrian chefs and cooks often pair Austria’s elegantly robust grape, Gruner Veltliner with pasta or cutlet dishes made using tomatoes. Tasting of white pepper, lemon and floral honey, Gruner’s acidity matches tomatoes’ acidity. Also, Gruner’s slight green character matches the greenness found in more store-bought tomatoes.
For autumn days when the frost is on the pumpkin, cook up some brown mushroom soup or stew, a steak smothered in Shiitake mushrooms or sautéed Pierogies or Gyoza stuffed with potatoes and brown mushrooms. Or even pastry stuffed with smoked duck and mushrooms.

Duck and mushroom stuffed pastry (photo-Sandra Shoji)

 

Their richness and heavier weight suit subtly oaked red wines like a Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra, South Australia, a New Zealand Pinot Noir or delicate Zinfandel like Ridge.
Another grape that can handle hearty dishes is Pinotage from South Africa. Pinotage is a cross between the delicate Pinot Noir and the sturdy Cinsault grapes. When made well with a few years of maturity, it is a very suave wine with essences of mushrooms, wild strawberries, violets, blueberries and smoke.
On a final note, while visiting Food-Ex 2010 in Japan, a huge food and beverage annual event that draws exhibitors and visitors worldwide, we discovered truffles are now being grown in Hokkaido. While they may not need pigs or dogs to sniff them out as they won’t be found in pungent forests, they still tasted sensually delicious.
(Copyright 2010: ( Sandra Shoji-サンドラ ショージ)