Japanese Wine

Tuesday night I went down to London with Weasel for a tasting of Yamanashi wines at the Japanese Embassy. Yamanashi was the region I lived in when I lived in Japan and until you’ve tasted Yamanashi grown fruit you don’t know what fruit is. Seriously, the peaches are about three times the size and more juicy than any here in England.

Now, I was brought up in England but for my whole life I have been very aware of wine, blame my french family, blame my cousins close association with a vineyard in France. The fact remains that university nearly killed what was a reasonable palette (nothing like three years of cheap shit to destroy the taste buds) but I do like a wine-tasting. The option of seriously trying out fifteen wines from the Nash was too tempting for words.

If you’re interested in my trip around London then there will be another entry, if you’re actually interested in what wines from Japan you should try then read on under the more section. The wine tasting was unfortunately amateurishly organised but then, it wasn’t for trade or press but rather for The Japan Society and I suspect they weren’t actually so bothered about us getting a genuine taste of the different wines on offer.

No chance to clean out our glasses, no chance to cleanse our palettes between wines. Water was sadly lacking, I suspect that my perceptions of the latter wines are not so good as a result. These are immensely subtle wines and they are all on the acidic side which means the later ones all built up together. The real problem was the lack of cleaning out the glass, I have this horrible feeling there were a couple of really mixed wines in there.

There was sushi on offer which is the selling point of the wines – the idea that they go with Japanese foods which European wines do not do as well, the closes you’ll get is a very dry white and the flavours aren’t as good as the Yamanashi ones.

I could go into a rant about soils and rainfall and the character of a countryside within it’s foods, but I won’t.

On the whole out of the fifteen wines I was introduced to I’d say two were really worth trying;

L’Orient Koshu 2008 from the Shirayuri Winery Co., Ltd.

Marquis Koshu 2009 from the Marquis Winery Co. Ltd.

If you’re interested keep reading or have a look at the KOJ website.

In order of presentation:

Japanese Style Wine Koshu 2008, Alps Wine Co., Ltd.
The nose is subtle, maybe a hint of sakura before it blossoms. The wine is gentle on the mouth with a hint of the acidity at the very end, it’s nothing special unfortunately.

Chanter Y, A Amarillo 2008, Diamond Windery Co., Ltd.
The nose is warm, the taste is reminiscent of sake somehow with a slight buzz on the tongue at the intial taste – a bit worrying as you wonder about fermentation techniques but on the whole the taste is a good one. It’s a warming wine, almost like rice fields after the rainy season.

Kayagatake 2008, Grace Winery
The nose is non-existent to me, too subtle I’m afraid. The wine is easy to drink almost to the point of being taste free, however, the after taste is almost flowery and very pleasant. A unique wine.

Haramo Vintage Koshu 2009, Haramo Wine Co., Ltd.
The nose is subtley floral. The taste is more of the nose, I can reccomend this as a wine to drink on a Saturday afternoon with a peach or strawberry or something fruity. Actually, ideally a persimmon with a glass of this.

Chateau Mars Koshu Sur Lie, Shirane Vineyard 2008, Hombo Shuzo, Co., Ltd. Yamanashi Mars Winery
The nose is again almost flowery, the taste is nothing special, a hint of acid which isn’t entirely unpleasant but there is something distinctly enjoyable about the taste. A drinkable wine certainly.

Arugabranca Isehara 2009, Katsunuma Jyozo Co., Ltd.
No nose to speak of. The taste is sharp and clear.

Lumiere Koshu Sur Lie 2008, Lumiere Co., Ltd.
The nose is fresh and promising. The taste is sadly disappointing.

Marquis Koshu 2009, Marquis Winery Co., Ltd.
The nose is fruity, with a slight floral undertone. The taste is fresh, fruity, it’s delicious. I’d definitely reccomend this one and not just with sashimi, I’d reccommend this one to drink on a summery afternoon out before a barbeque.

Sadoya Koshu 2009, Sadoya Co., Ltd.
A good nose with some body to it. The taste stays with you but grows in acidity, it’s a little like a tart apple and about as pleasant.

L’ORIENT Koshu barrel fermented 2008, Shirayuri Winery Co., Ltd.
This one had a gentle nose, slightly of wood and I wasn’t expecting much of the taste but it was warm, slightly sweeter than the others and a very fresh taste that grew on me. Recomended with sushi or on it’s own a very delicious drop.

Koshu Traditional Rich Taste 2008, Soryu Winery, Co., Ltd.
Not much nose, very very gentle, I suspect a more sophisticated palette would get more from this. It’s nice but with a sharp after taste.

Koshu special cuvee barrel fermented, Suntory Tomi no oka Winery 2007, Suntory Liquors Ltd., Tomi no oka Winery
The nose is distinctly of sake with fruity undertones. It’s a good taste and I could imagine it with sushi.

Sol Lucet Koshu 2009, Yamanashi Wine Co., Ltd.
No nose. A light buzz on the tongue, not pleasant.

Madoromi 2009, Yamato Wine Co., Ltd.
No nose. A young, dry taste.

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