|This is the part of Takagi Shuzo's compound, where Juyondai is made, that they would prefer that you see.
Moreover, its appeal is based on a carefully cultivated image that is simply not true. I will show you, with photographs.
|A "limited edition" Juyondai
Many of my readers at Wine Searcher use the site to find expensive wines. It's sometimes my job to write profiles of the wineries that make them, and often I squelch my personal taste because telling people a wine they love isn't great not only isn't my job, but is kind of rude.
As a result, I sometimes visit -- or am turned away from -- some of the world's most exclusive wineries. Some, especially in California, are open about their marketing strategy being based on scarcity. Every wine lover has heard of Screaming Eagle, but few have sampled it, which is why it costs $2500 a bottle in stores. People often ask if it's worth the money. I've tried it, and it's good wine. I'd rather have 50 bottles of good $50 wines, but it's not my place to tell people how to spend their money.
You need to know this background to know why I went to rural Yamagata prefecture, near the city of Murayama, to visit Takagi Shuzo, the makers of Juyondai, even though they told me the day before they would not speak to me. I thought, I'll knock on the door and maybe they'll meet me anyway. If nothing else, I can take some exterior photos of this quirky little sake brewery and write a story without their participation like this one I did about Screaming Eagle.
What I found was something I didn't expect at all. And I think the sake world needs to know it.