An Intro to Japanese Wines
One thing the Japanese have firmly established in the drinks trade is that they do quality well. Their whiskies are now widely regarded as some of the finest on the planet; they’re the only ones who can make rice wine into a cultural superstar; and they also make wonderfully clean and elegant wines.
While most of the wine made in Japan comes from imported grapes (around two thirds in fact), around 26,400 kilolitres of Japanese wine is made from domestically grown and harvested grapes. The main region for winemaking being the Yamanashi Provence, where wineries like the world-acclaimed Grace are located. Yamanashi Provence is responsible for over 40% of land under vine in Japan, with limited production grown in Hokkaido in the North of the islands and the Miyazaki Provence on the Southern island of Kyushu.
The main grape variety for international export from Japan is Koshu, promoted by the influential body Koshu of Japan (KOJ). Koshu, originally a European grape, was imported into the country around a 1,000 years ago along the Silk Road and has found its true home in Japan making beautifully crisp and clean white wines. Wine, as you might expect, to pair perfectly with Japan’s seafood and sushi culture. Chairman of KOJ Shigeki Kida and Grace Wine owner and Japanese wine pioneer Shigekazu Misawa are the two figureheads of the KOJ and have helped raise Japanese white wine to the very best standards on the international stage.
In 2016, Grace Wine Koshu Private Reserve (made by the wonderful Ayana Misawa, pictured above) stunned the world when it won double Platinum ‘Best in Show’ titles at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
Extract from ‘Ben & Gyorgy’s Secret Wine Regions of the World’ from Novel Wines.