Monday, 5 August 2019

Martin goes to Japan

July and the day the heat wave breaks, well good because on the evening we have some travelling to do.

Martin, something of a veteran speaker to the Wine Club,  takes us to countries not normally associated with wine and wine production, Japan, Israel, Uruguay, The Lebanon, India and, would you believe, Thailand.    It's fair to say that the great wine producing countries and areas of the world need not be too worried about the amount or competition from the wines from these wines but they were more than just drinkable, they were interesting, different and in one or two cases, exceptional.  They were always surprising, but in a good way

Martin, a very willing speaker and on this occasion a willing model.


A very good talk Martin, a surprising one and one that gave us all the chance to taste and assess the wines from countries we almost certainly would not have been able to have done without your diligent search and sourcing of these surprising wines.  Many thanks.

The first wine, one of two white wines, was from Japan.   Not a country known for wine, A country that shared the problem of all the countries wines we tried, a climate that is not best suited to the growing of grapes. So a challenge but one that was accepted and resulted in a wine that's suitable as an aperitif, not a lot of body or style, but very pleasant as pre dinner drink with friends prior to eating fish or a light salad perhaps. In which case this wine could carry through the meal.  It would certainly lead to the discussion of the wine.  It would be almost certain that no one had tasted Japanese wines before. It was challenge to obtain in the UK and this had to be bought on line from a specialist retailer.


The wine is available from novelwines.com at £18.99

Wine  Number 2, a Chenin Blanc from India.

Chenin Blanc the grape most associated with South Africa, but here on very good form from the sub continent. After the rather bland first wine this was very good, A crisper offering and a very satisfactory wine, all the more so when you start to think where the wine is form, the country of tigers and monsoon!


Grape: Chenin Blanc
Year: 2017
Estate: Sula Vineyards (founded 1999)
Region: Nashik Valley
ALC: 12.0%
Price: £10.99
Retailer: www.novelwines.co.uk


Before our break and the chance to review the cheeses we try our first red, a rather soft wine from Thailand. Here the problem is not so much the growing of grapes but rather stopping of the vines from producing grapes continually, without the seasons the vines will keep on growing grapes twice a year, and not very good grapes at that. The wine makers have to make the vines think it has been winter by stripping leaves and in so doing starting the fruiting cycle at a time that will give just  one crop a year, this process seems to does make for a soft and very pleasant wine to drink.


Grape: Shiraz blend
Year: 2013
Estate: Monsoon Valley (founded 2003)
Region: Hua Hin
ALC: 12.0%
Price: £9.99
Retailer: www.novelwines.co.uk


The second of the red wines was, for many the best wine of the evening, possibly because the previous wines were soft and a little neutral on taste but this wine, a rather gusty red was very well liked. Accompanied by the salty Roquefort cheese this was winner.

Something of a surprise was that Israel has been making wines since 1882, the vines introduced by the Rothschild family. A very good and very enjoyable red, and from the Judean Hills of Isreal.


Grape: Argaman
Year: 2017
Estate: Segal Winery (founded 1954)
Region: Judean Foothills
ALC: 12.5%
Price: £13.49
Retailer: Eynsham Cellars


One of the countries to border Israel is the Lebanon, and it was the Lebanon that gave is our next wine, another red but bolder now.  From the Bekaa Vally, of course it is and why not, this was a gutsy wine, for some a little too much maybe but with a the mature cheddar, a grade 5 on the cheese Richter scale, the cheese complemented the wine well and made for a good team.  The cheese was the extra mature cheddar.





Grape: Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon 40%, Syrah 40%, Cinsault 15%, Carignan 5%)
Year: 2015
Estate: Domaine des Tourelles(founded 1868)
Region: Bekaa valley
ALC: 14.5%
Price: £12.99
Retailer: Eynsham Cellars

Our final wine of the evening was one that was made from the grape noted for its exceptional levels of tannin, so we knew that this was going to be a wine that is astringent and it was but  one that would age well in the bottle. Some said this is one to lay down for a few years and would make great wine.The wine comes from Uruguay, a formidable grape and wine, bring out the boar stew!


Grape: Argaman
Year: 2017
Estate: Segal Winery (founded 1954)
Region: Judean Foothills
ALC: 12.5%
Price: £13.49
Retailer: Eynsham Cellars




The cheeses of night were:

1 Ricotta 
2 Gruyere
3 Reblochon
4 Roquefort
5 Mature Cheddar
6 Stilton

The cheeses were bought from Aldi with the exception of nos. 2 and 3 they were from Waitrose.  All were thought to be of high quality.

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