What a long, strange 7 days this has been since the Sendai 9.0 earthquake/tsunami. While the tv has been flooded with non-stop coverage of nature’s power on the human spirit, there have been other outlets that have revealed the character in others that I long suspected was questionable.
First, let me answer why you ask about why bring up Sendai in the first place. Most of you readers have never been to that area of Japan, the northern (or Tohoku) region. A few years ago, I took the bullet train up to Morioka, which is north of Sendai, from Tokyo as a side trip. While the media paints a picture of “Japan” as a modern urban wonder, what is forgotten is that northern Japan is the ‘rice basket’ of the country. The terrain of the country is mostly mountainous so farming is very difficult, yet the farmers solved the riddle of mountainside rice farming by creating terraces that maximize the available area to grow a difficult commodity in rice. So what is seen from the train are geometrically curved terraces of rows of deep green grasses literally up the side of mountains, while down in the valleys are fields full of uniformly aligned long rows of, what else, more rice. Surprisingly, they love their sunflower plants, which add a sparkling contrast of color. The train route then turns toward the east to the Pacific as it approaches Sendai, what was a typical modern city. Further up the train route, the train reconnects alongside the ocean as it passes small fishing hamlets and onsen (hot spring baths) resorts. The journey is unforgettable and should be included in any itinerary to the world’s 3rd largest economy.
The background tragedy, in regards to riding bullet trains (something that should be on your ‘bucket list’), is that all bullet train lines have been suspended, due to the earthquake/tsunami. While the bullet train’s northern terminus ends at Aomori, there is one additional gem of a ride, if you like riding trains, and that is taking the regional train from Aomori to Hakodate on Hokkaido Island. No, the train does not travel over a bridge, but speeds through a tunnel, the Seikan Tunnel, below the Tsugaru Straits that separate the two islands. It’s an incredible one hour ride that is documented on a screen so riders know where they are at while in the tunnel. Amtrak has nothing on Japan Railways!
However, what has been disturbing are the responses to this tragic set of events by knucklenuts who display such asinine arrogance. I was amazed, but not surprised that everyone’s little wine reporter, Sean, chose to announce what wine he was drinking about 48 hours after the earthquake/tsunami, just as video of the destruction was being shown on CNN. Yeah Sean, like you tweeted “our thoughts are with you” was more cheap sincerity than real meaning. Then, there were other comments that insulted the people of Japan such as “that’s what you get for bombing Pearl Harbor.” Huh??? What high school did you go to? Ever heard of August 6 and 9, 1945? Double facepalm.
I won’t bother to dissect why the sudden demand in potassium iodide pills by locals, other than I would gather all the wine bloggers bought them up.
But, as you readers have seen, the Japanese people have a resilience not seen anywhere else, except maybe on Red Mountain. There was no vigilantism, no looting, no cutting in line, no civil disobedience anywhere! To understand this is to understand the culture of the Japanese. I cannot justifiably sum it up in a paragraph here, but I think these key elements did assist in the formation of their current society: (1) the feudal period “cleansed” many thieves from the population; (2) the people take immense pride in who they are as a community, versus as individuals; (3) the lessons learned from defeat in World War II and the subsequent reconstruction re-created and reinforced the “team” concept; and (4) guns are verboten in the country, as are Schedule I controlled substances, and the laws are strictly enforced. Spend some time in Japan and you too will understand why they have advanced to where they are at today.
The Reckoning is a wonderful blend that I will refer to as a “Super Columbian.” This is defined as a red wine blended from Columbia Valley AVA fruit, and composing of at least one of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, or syrah as the majority grape. Personally, I think “red blend” or “red wine” is a boring description, and ‘Meritage’ is a California thing. And, forget “Bourdeaux”…that’s for surrender monkeys.
Tim and Erica Blue continue building their reputation with this follow-up to last year’s incredible offerings from the 2007 vintage. They just released this and their signature Red Willow cabernet to club members and will soon allow the public to access this tremendously hedonistic pair of wines, if the clubbers haven’t already bought them all. Starting next month, construction will begin on the property to add an underground barrel storage area and a dedicated tasting room where clubbers can relax and enjoy their wines in a lounge-type atmosphere.
I will say this– it is a joy to watch the evolution of this winery! They’re doing it on their own terms and, I may be delusional in saying this, but a few wine bloggers may have contributed in adding to the success of this winery. This, despite one wine reporter tempering his own survey where voters unanimously shouted that Adams Bench wines were the bee’s knees by belching that the winery made “highly tannic wines.” Awwww, the sore loser wanted a Walla Walla winery to validate why he thinks Walla Walla is all that and his readers kicked him in his blue waffle. Too bad, so sad, Sean.
Food pairing was Thai food: pahd Thai and beef curry. Fascinating and good.
Tasted at 44-67 degrees on the IR temp gun. Deep garnet-black in the Riedel and with aromas of purple flowers, black currant, and ripe red berries. Dense and full on the palate, with a long tail of black currant, plum, black pepper, licorice, dark toast, dark chocolate, violets, and a slight bloom. Best at 60-65 degrees and after a 2 hour decanting.
Alcohol: 14.9%. 51% merlot, 38% cab sau, 11% cab franc. A few hundred cases. Aged 21 months and bottled in July, 2010. Rated: 93. Paid: $39. Value: $40. Music pairing: “Oh-Oh, I’m Falling In Love Again” by Jimmie Rodgers. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.