Some readers of this blog will recall the days when overseas diners would approach a plate of sushi with trepidation, fearing that its consumption might bring on—just to be a tad slangy here—the runs…or worse. Today, as we all know, sushi has gone international, and in some of its wilder overseas manifestations no longer resembles “orthodox” sushi. It has also been elevated to those rarefied climes where the restaurants serve nanoportions and the tabs are titanic. “Pass me the microscope, please. I have to determine exactly what this morsel is.”
There is no doubt that sushi is one of, if not the, most successful gastronomic exports this country has ever made. What’s next? It’s hard to say, but it is unlikely that anything will have the global impact that sushi has had. Presently, more and more sake breweries are opening abroad, and foreigners are becoming familiar with other Japanese dishes like tako yaki. But let us take a look into our crystal ball to see what might be in the offing. …[stroking ball gently with both hands] “ I see a stygian world of crushing debt, coupled with malfeasance on a grand….” Sorry, that was the wrong crystal ball, the one marked “The Economy.” Let me begin again. …[stroking ball gently with both hands] “I see a Japanese varietal coming into view. It’s a black-grape variety, obviously not the anointed Koshu. Could it be…? Why, yes, it is—Muscat Bailey A!”
We have been singing the praises of this varietal for some time and are firmly convinced that it has GREAT export potential and that not enough is being done along those lines. We were reminded of this recently when we tasted Okunota BaileyZZANTE 2016. This is a sparkling wine of, as its wonderful name implies, the frizzante variety. It is made using the Traditional Method, which is what is used in Champagne AOC. This is a serious wine with tremendous potential. It is 100% Muscat Bailey A. The color is strawberry-tinged garnet; as readers can see from the picture, it is turbid; and the abv is 11%. Acidity and sweetness are well balanced. The tannins are clearly discernible but are soft and seductive. What makes this wine special is the plethora of flavors that are perceptible on the nose and/or palate. Here are some: herbaceous notes of asparagus, apricot, candy, vanilla, and toast. The penultimate descriptor suggests that the wine may have had some oak exposure. The last-mentioned suggests some lees aging.
The Okunota Winery is located in Yamanashi Prefecture.