Visiting the Yamazaki Whiskey distillery outside of Kyoto. This was a treat for me. I got to have a walk through their whiskey library and taste a bit of Yamazaki 12 which is one of my favourites.
It seems that blending different batches is very important in whiskey. Instead of expressing a specific origin/terroir, the raw materials they use can be from anywhere. They buy grain wholesale. The real trick is blending whiskeys of different maturities and with different oak regimes to create a consistent flavour from bottle to bottle. At Yamazaki they even use some mizunara oak barrels which is an indigenous Japanese tree to give the whiskey a unique “oriental” taste. The whole operation was very professional and the tasting very well conducted.
Visiting the Reynolds Rocha cork warehouse.
Something like 90% of cork is grown in Spain and Portugal, so everything is imported from there. It is already punched from the sheets of bark when it arrives in South Africa.
This is where they print and lubricate the corks. The corks are lubricated with a silicone and paraffin coating that makes them easier to pull out of the bottle and ensures a good seal. The machine for applying this looks like a big washing machine!
Natural cork comes in a lot of different qualities and all has a certain degree of variation. For Noble Hill, we want to ensure that we use high quality corks that will allow for significant aging in the bottle (up to 10 years from vintage). This means we are very choosy about who we work with, their quality control, and we also check in on them regularly to ensure that we are getting corks that have been selected for us for quality from the tree to the bottle.
We look for high quality corks from single estates. This ensures consistency throughout the batch. Like single estate wine, single estate corks have a terroir all their own!
A totally fun night at the Ten Bompas Hotel with about 60 of our closest friends and customers. We tasted through a number of older vintages and compared them to current releases. Each wine was paired with a dish from the new restaurant at Ten Bompas called Winehouse which will serve the Noble Hill Viognier and Estate Blend.
Woke up with my head in the clouds this morning. It was cold and misty at the cellar but sunny and warm up by the Sauvignon Blanc.