yamauchi-11Watari Bune is a story of passion, dedication and joy.  Watari Bune is the name of the rice varietal used to make this sake.  It is a rice strain that was used with great enthusiasm in the 1920′s and 30′s because of the wonderful sake it made.  However, the rice stalks grew very tall and it harvested late in the year, in October.  Typhoons destroyed the crops and bugs ate away at the “hanging fruit” before harvesting.  Eventually, the farmers and sake brewers got tired of using this rice and stopped.  Some sixty years later, Takaaki Yamauchi, 7th generation president and brewer of Huchu Homare brewery in Ibaraki learned of this great rice.  He decided to pursue it, and pursue it he did.  Eventually, in 1988, he tracked down seedlings that had been preserved, freeze-dried, by the Japanese government at their Agricultural Research Center.   He started with 14 grams of seedlings and planted them in 1988.  It wasn’t until three seasons later, in 1990, that he was able to brew his first batch of sake and create the Watari Bune brand.   From there, it became a cult brand in Japan, with rave reviews in the sake press and the brewing community.

Although open to debate, Yamauchi-san argues that Watari Bune, which is an heirloom or “pure” strain of rice is the father strain to Yamada Nishiki, the most celebrated sake rice.

Regardless, Watari Bune is amazing.  Lively, aromatic and complex, it is a big, full-flavored sake that people greatly enjoy.  Its aroma bursts open with an array of floral and fruit strains and it is weighty and wonderfully expressive on the palate.  The Junmai Ginjo finishes brigther and more acidic than the Junmai Daiginjo, but the latter also has its crispness in the finish which makes it a wonderful, sipping JDG.

Watari Bune Junmai Ginjo 55

Flavor Description: The aroma of this sake bursts out of the glass.  Floral, fruity, funky and complex, it accurately precludes the matching flavors of this sake.  It finishes lively to the end, with a bright, snappy acidity.  Great on its own, an apogee of ginjo sake, showing how nihonshu can rival any beverage for complexity, showmanship, depth and range.

Pairings: Spicy Asian, game meat, Thanksgiving dinner, monk fish liver, soy based sauces, cheese and fruit desserts.  As varied as its flavor.

Region: Ibaraki
Grade: Junmai Ginjo
Seimaibuai: 55 %
Nihonshudo: +3
Acidity: 1.5
Amino Acidity: 1.1
Rice: Watari Bune
Yeast: Association #9
Shubo Method: Sokujo
Pressing: Yabuta
Filtration: None
Resting:: 3 to 8 months
Pasturization: Once in bottle

Watari Bune Junmai Daiginjo

Noted in books and magazines by saké experts such as John Gauntner, Philip Harper and wine critic, Robert Parker, this junmai daiginjo is inarguably one of the most prized junmai daiginjos in the saké world. It is deep, luscious and layered with big but well-balanced fruit flavors characterized by honeydew melon, peaches and pineapple.

Region: Ibaraki
Grade: Junmai Daiginjo
Seimaibuai: 35 %
Nihonshudo: +3
Acidity: 1.4
Amino Acidity: 1.0
Rice: Watari Bune
Yeast: Association #9
Shubo Method: Sokujo
Pressing: By hand in fune
Filtration: None
Resting:: 3 to 10 months in tanks
Pasturization: Once in bottle

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