The Flying Squirrel (Private Works): Tomi No Oka wines Media Lunch

Call me plain ignorant or just narrow-minded, but the recent lunch session organised by Tomi No Oka Wines distributed by Beam Suntory was a real eye-opening introduction to the world of Japanese wines.

Strictly speaking, there are no unique local grape varietals in Japan, but however, the uprising of a few mutated species which have evolved gradually over many centuries have been deemed worthy of being an indigenous Japanese varietal; the Muscat Bailey A and Koshu for example, some of the excellent varietals employed in the making of Tomi No Oka wines. A winery located in the shadow of Mt Fuji - Tomi no oka possess the rare qualities that make the land so succinctly perfect for raising good vines. Everything from the well-drained volcanic soil to the low rainfall and long hours of sunshine received on the Southern facing slopes and menacingly fluctuating temperatures proceed to nurture and mature the grapes at an accelerated rate.

Even though much of the domestic produce is used for domestic consumption, Tomi no Oka is on the prowl to expand into international markets. Singapore being one of their pits stops on their journey. Hence, Beam Suntory Asia, their distributor had arranged for a media wine pairing lunch with The Flying Squirrel (Private Works) to showcase the versatility of the wines in accordance to food pairings.

We thread lightly around the appetizer of  Su Miso Na No Hana, Deep fried ika, Ebi and Edamame. The Premium Koshu from 2013 is a 100% Koshu grape white wine variety, carrying hints of Japanese citrus with the timid introduction of florals. Perfect for everyday drinking and pairing with just about everything. In this case, this ambitious starter was well equipped with surprises and variation of textures to keep you sipping away at the Suntory Premium Koshu 2013. The crystal clear prawns, still possessing a healthy bite between gently steamed and seasoned edamame quite possibly a perfect match to the mellow wine.

Servers moved with deft fingers behind the gorgeous marble counters to present a delicate plate of Assorted Sashimi - Akami, Tako, Hotate, Sayori and Ikura in unison with the Suntory Shinshu Chardonnay 2012. Comprised of 85% Nagano Chardonnay grapes and 15% Iskayama-mural, the result is inherently representative of the former; the low rainfall and sharp drops in temperature producing this wine with a mild structure but contrastingly fruity flair on the nose. A Yamanashi TOMI white 2013 stole the limelight - a lovely honey hued 100% chardonnay revealing bold flavors of buttered popcorn on the nose with an oaky, oily finish from being fermented in French Oak Barrels.

The next contender is somewhat of a food and wine pairing 101 disaster - I'm referring to noobs at this juncture as in all honesty, the combination of the finest grade of Assorted Sushi together with Suntory's Premium Muscat Bailey A 2012 (Japanese indigenous varietal) was enlightening, if not revolutionary. Chu Toro, Hirame, Unagi, Ebi and Tamago drape around nobules of seasoned Japanese sushi rice with such endearment that the duo doesn't tear apart lightly even when flipped over on its belly. The fattiness of the chu-toro especially, highlighted in between sips of the fruity wine, interlaced with barrelled fermentation complexities and a low tannic value for easy consumption.

Just for a bit of background information, Muscat Bailey A is a unique Japanese red wine grape created in 1927, a hybrid of Bailey grapes with Muscat Hamburgh, a grape varietal that is better suited for Japanese terroir.

Next dish didn't succeed so much in flavors, the Tiger Prawns grilled with Uni Sauce cooked to varying degrees of doneness such that one yielded from the shell with little resistance whilst the other left remnants of sweet flesh riddled with a certain astringency from mercury around its flattened pink case. That being said, the Tomi No Oka Koshu 2012 rescued the pairing - fresh with citrus flavors and a smooth scent of butterscotch coming from the oak barrelling process. A deep sniff will have you muttering sighs mingling contentment and resignation.

Next up on the dance floor, the perfect tag-team of flavors and Japanese decadence. The juices of the grilled Hoba Miso Wagyu and the 2009 Tomi Red bringing forth a burst of rich, full bodied persona, Supple and deep garnet in color, the wine, served pleasantly chilled was delicate but had a certain intriguing density to its, pulling flavors of coffee and blackcurrant impressions in its body. Definitely one that you'll happily conclude the night with.

That is till you've partake in the Suntory Shiojiri Muscat Bailey A 2013. A rising star, the wine explodes on the palate with notes of crushed ripened strawberries and a touch of caramel. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks was followed by barrel again in prized Japanese Mizunara oak casks for a year hence lending a touch of woody spice to the mix. Slightly sweet, this was in sync with the Homemade Rum Tiramisu -  a perfect finale to the seemingly strenuous but wildly successful 6 course, 8 wines pairing lunch.

Note that Tomi no oka wines are distributed in Singapore by Beam Suntory Asia
Fundamentally Flawed would like to thank Beam Suntory for the wine tasting and The Flying Squirrel for the food pairing.

The Flying Squirrel Private Works
179A Telok Ayer
t: 6221 7073

Operating Hours:
Mon - Thurs: 12pm - 3pm; 5 pm - 11pm
Fri: 12pm - 3pm; 5pm - 12am
Sat: 5pm - 12am

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