Missing Tokyo and Shafer
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 4:23pm ET
Back to earth….from the gastronomic nirvana of Japan
with some of the greatest wine collectors ever to home with my mother for Christmas dinner and non-vintage Bollinger
and 2004 Seghesio Zinfandel Alexander Valley Home Ranch
. Home is always a good thing though. And the bottles of Bolly fizz and juicy yet elegant California Zin with a little roasted turkey, mash and string beans did the trick. I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas dinner as well.
I only spent three days in Tokyo and it only served to make me want to return as soon as possible. It is a fascinating place. Except for my buddy Thomas, who I went there with, I saw few Westerners during the entire trip. Being the winos and foodies we are, we spent a good amount of time roaming various wine stores and food halls in the top department stores.
The quality of ingredients is second to none, from the fish and meat sections to the chocolate and cookie shops. You want to eat everything; it is so, so good. The Japanese obviously appreciate the best quality in everything.
Most of my meals were Korean barbeque. Nothing better than grilling your own piece of Kobe beef
and drinking a range of 1982 Bordeauxs, or a mini-vertical of Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Hillside Select. Eating Kobe is like eating butter. The flavor is amazing but you pay afterwards. It takes a couple of days to digest. We also ate some of the best sushi ever. They served meaty 10-day aged tuna sashimi and amazing sea urchin that tasted like foie gras. I thought a nice red Burgundy would have gone perfectly but my Hong Kong gourmands preferred sake
. So sake it was. I had no idea what we drank. Drinking sake is worse than drinking German wines…you can’t read the labels. I asked my friend Peter Lam, a movie producer and developer who organized the trip, how to tell the difference in sakes and he said simply to “buy the best you can afford.” I would still like to know what we drank, because it was very good quality.
The min-Shafer vertical was interesting. We had three vintages: 1995
. This came from the cellar of Henry Tang, who was also on the trip and shipped some wines over. We all preferred the 1997, as expected in view of the lofty reputation of the wine, but the 1995 was also excellent. Some people preferred the 1995 by the end of lunch. The 1997 also was the overall favorite in a blind tasting in Florence of Tuscan cults versus California cults
. Everyone thought the 1996 was slightly diluted and aggressive with a green character.
Here are my notes from this non-blind tasting:
1997: This is a long and fruity red with lots of tar, berry, and currant character. Full and fresh with layers of ripe tannins and a long finish. Solid and youthful. Long life ahead of it. 94 points.
1996: Slightly green undertones with berry and currant character. Medium to full body, with silky tannins and a lean finish. Herbal. Drink now. 89 points.
1995: Still very youthful, this wine shows lovely currant and jam character. It full, silky and gorgeous on the finish. It got better and better in the glass. 93 points.
Shafer is one of the best producers of Cabernet Sauvignon in California for me at the moment. And it tastes great in Tokyo, Los Angeles or anywhere else in the world.