Monday, 14 June 2010

World Cup Wines. Day Four. Cameroon vs Japan

We've been there before of course - hunting down African wines like the Pineapple variety from Nigeria or the Palm verson of Ghana

Palm wine goes a long way in Cameroon too. The villages of Batibo produce 10,000 litres of Palm wine every day and that makes Batibo the Palm wine capital of Cameroon. The BBC reports that,

 'To marry a Batibo girl, all suitors must provide a mandatory 10 litres of palm wine, which the bride must share with the groom as a sign that they will share everything as married partners'.

Oh, foreign customs are so amusing aren't they? But hang on. That's no different from a 'Western' wedding is it? Indeed, that authority on correct form, Debrett's, recommends half a bottle of wine per head at the wedding reception plus another bottle per head with dinner. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that 10 litres , only about 13 bottles of wine, is starting to look a bit measly and would hardly see you through the speeches at an English wedding. 

Japanese wine is unlikely to be found on the table at a wedding in England, but while Japan is regarded as a massively important market to both Old and New World producers alike, the islands also have a very significant domestic wine industry, with beautiful vineyards of tall vine hedges and long cordons growing in the shadow of Mount Fuji. 

The Japanese also have their own, specially developed grape variety called Muscat Bailey-A - traditionally used predominantly in the production of sweet wines but increasingly in blended dry reds more akin to traditional French styles. 

The drive towards greater quality has been marked by the introduction of regional certification, equivalent of the AOC and AVA sytems of France and the USA respectively. In 1983, Suntory took over Château Lagrange in Bordeaux and has for the past 25 years been working with Domaines Barons de Rothschild, proprietors of Château Lafite-Rothschild, the culmination of which will be  the first release of their jointly developed red this autumn.

This is significant. When the Japanese decided to make a sports car, which Mazda product planner Bob Hall described as  "a simple, bugs-in-the-teeth, wind-in-the-hair, classically-British sports car" the modern equivalent of the MGB, they came up with the car known as the Miata or MX-5. With over one million sold it is recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the best-selling roadster ever.

Until the fall then, look out for the flagship wines from the Tomi no Oka Winery, with names like Tomi, Tomi no Oka and especially Tomi no Uta with its jammy Muscat Bailey-A.

Grace Koshu is a definitive example of Japanese white wine, made from the very pale purple native Japanese Koshu grape cultivated using the traditional Tanazukuri cane pruning system that looks like a beautiful floating carpet of grapes and vines.

Although Cameroon are ranked 19 in the world and have in Samuel Eto'o one of its greatest strikers, and Japan are at 45 and have never won a World Cup match on foreign soil, in three matches they've never lost to Cameroon and haven't even conceded a goal.

Cameroon 0 Japan 0

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