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Friday, Oct. 10, 2008


A little Cali in salaryman central

Special to The Japan Times

Wine quite literally takes center stage at Wine Kurasu (Wine Crow) in Shinbashi. Tables are spotlighted dramatically so that rich ruby colors spill out from your wine glass onto the white surface, while the customers sit back under softer lighting and get to the business of contemplating the subtle play of flavors at work. The hushed and almost reverent hum of conversation contributes to a nearly religious atmosphere.

Specializing in Californian wines, the range available here is staggering: the bar has 1,200 different kinds for customers to sample, and all wines are kept at an optimum temperature in a custom-built wine cellar that adjoins the bar.

To accompany the wines there is a splendid and quite reasonable menu of delicious Mediterranean morsels, such as olives, hams and cheeses. Dates stuffed with almonds were really superb coupled with gulps of delicious American Pinots. The head sommelier is the hugely knowledgeable Koji Watanabe, who, besides being qualified in wines, also holds a qualification in cheeses. But as I'm here for the Pinot Noir, Sachiyo Tanaka, recognized as the in-house Pinot Nut, is advising us.

She starts off with the suggestion of a 2004 Maysara from Oregon. This is a gorgeous spicy licorice Pinot with pleasantly chewy tannins that I thoroughly recommend. To contrast this rich wine with something a little lighter, she next presents a Californian 2005 Talley. A deep sniff reveals a delicious and delicate confection of strawberries and glace cherries, which followed through nicely on the palate.

Prices at Wine Kurasu start out fairly reasonable at ¥1,050 but if you're drinking Pinot, be aware that you might be paying around double for the privilege. Still, for the true devotee who wants to discover Pinot's outside the Burgundian box, Wine Kurasu is absolutely divine.

2-15-11 Shinbashi 6F; (03) 5251 3710; www.winegura.com

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