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Article – A Taste of Japan

April 15th, 2011

To celebrate the increase in the ECB base rate, and as a tip of the hat to better times ahead, I am going to indulge in some luxury this week.

2 Juicy Ones

I was the very grateful recipient of two of Pat Whelan’s famous Wagyu steaks recently. I could pretend that I bought them, but in the wine world if a reviewer gets a free sample they are obligated to say it was a sample. I am assuming it is the same for food, so I hear by declare I was a happy guinea pig for the Rolls Royce of Steaks.

What is Wagyu and what does it have to do with wine? I decided not to waste the opportunity to taste one of these world famous pieces of meat and opened a very special bottle of wine that I had been saving. The best of food deserves the best of wine, and I will try and explain how a very fine Bordeaux tastes while matched with this very unique cut of beef.

Ahh… Bordeaux

I opened one of my favourite Bordeaux wines, the fabulous Clos du Marquis, which comes from the famed village of St Julien in the Medoc area of Bordeaux. It is the second wine from Leoville Las Cases, which is a part of the second growth wines from the 1855 Classification.

Leoville Las Cases - Bordeaux

Leoville Las Cases - Bordeaux

These are the wines you buy for a small fortune and keep them for a few years and they turn into a large fortune. As stated, the wine I opened was the second wine from one of these giants, and I got it as a present, before the chanting starts – “There’s no recession in that house”. I can assure you there is. Incidentally I do sell it as well and it is a steal at €56 Euros. If I could sell a few cases, it would help with the whole recession thing.

The Farmers Market

Anyway, the wine was opened and the carrots and parsnips courtesy of Paddy Stokes from the Farmers Market were prepared as well as spuds drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper and popped in the oven. I am a big believer in letting top quality food and wine speak for itself, so no sauces for steak of this quality. The wine would be the sauce.

Let me explain a little bit about about Wagyu for those of you not familiar. Wagyu literally means Japanese Cow, and that is where this breed originates from. They are known for their unique textured flavour. The cattle are raised on a traditional diet of organic grains to give an authentic fullness of flavour and tenderness. According to Pat’s very informative website, during cooking the high concentration of inter-muscular fat or marbling melts and marinates the wagyu beef from the inside.

Is Wagyu cheaper than the cholesterol pills?

The really good news is that the “studies have shown Wagyu has major health benefits as part of a balanced diet. The high level of unsaturated fats and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which is said to boost the immune system and also helps lower cholesterol as part of a balanced diet to fight diseases like diabetes and heart disease”.

Whatever about that all I know is that I never tasted anything like them. There was a texture to the meat that was very different to fillet or sirloin. There is a layer of fat that runs through the cut, and it instils a slow release flavour that lingers long, just like a fine wine.

The wine … at last

Speaking of wine, I think it is time that I described it and more particularly why someone might pay good money for the top stuff. Top end Bordeaux, from the Left Bank or Medoc is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Merlot and/or Cabernet Franc on the side.

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine in the Barrel room of Leoville Las Cases

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine in the Barrel room of Leoville Las Cases

There are Proteins in beef and the tannins found in Red wine, and in particular Bordeaux, soak up these proteins and helps bring out the flavour. The tannins are those things that make your mouth go all dry when you drink the wine without food. Hence, heavily tannic wine needs aging or food.

When you match this tannic wine to a beef as complex and textured as Wagyu, this marriage of proteins is so much more pronounced. The tannins were neutralised and the fruit expression in the wine came to the fore. That almost buttery tenderness in the beef is filled with this fantastic expression of blackcurrant and red cherrys from the wine.

Here comes the Bulls%$*

Without sounding too full of rubbish, the wine and the Wagyu seemed to blend together and a kind of calm came over me. I felt I was walking in Japan among the cows with the vines of Bordeaux in the background. I think I’ve taken it too far. I can see Pat cringing.

My review of the Wagyu, for what it is worth, is that it is a sublime piece of meat that tastes like no other I have had. I would love to retry it in a barbeque as I imagine the flavours would be even more pronounced. If you ever have it, be sure to match it to a good wine. This beef deserves it.

The Chileans are Here

I must admit that both the wine and the Wagyu are a treat, as they are not the cheapest things on the menu, but the good news is that Pat also has Wagyu burgers and I have a new range of Chilean wines that I bring in direct from the vineyard. Once again, there are some great matches to be had, especially as BBQ season approaches.

As a proud Francophile, it has taken me nearly two years to find a Chilean wine I would commit to the larger quantities that are required to import direct. I found it in Santa Alicia and their wines come in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Carmenere. The prices start at €7.99 and then move to €9.99 for the Reserva range and it is only €12.99 for the Gran Reserva range. The Cabernets in particular are superb and a real alternative to the more expensive French variety. Try the discount case of 12 which has a little of everything and is only €99.99 ( from €124.88 )

Communion, Confirmation and Christening & Weddings

So, call in for a taste as we will have these wines open over the next few weeks and will be doing some really special deals on case prices, which are perfect for the three Cs, Communion, Confirmation and Christening. It’s also great for the big W.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at www.rednosewine.com/blog, visit our All New Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RedNoseWineFanPage or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine
For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at info@rednosewine.com

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist Apr 13 2011

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