Ageing Potential: Drink now - 2022
Perfect with: Sushi, sashimi, grilled fish
Why You'll Love It?
The Koshu is a pink skinned white grape native to Japan, mostly grown in the Yamanashi prefecture (about 90min from Tokyo). It’s a hybrid grape, believed to have originated naturally from crossing the European Vitis vinifera and an Asian Vitis species. Japan’s humid conditions is well suited to this grape.
Japanese viticulturists go to extraordinary lengths to protect the Koshu grapes, choosing to train them high in pergolas, improving airflow around the bunches, while also shading the grapes from temperature extremes. They also protect the Koshu grapes from summer rainfall with little wax paper hats stapled together above each bunch, ensuring that the water doesn’t get inside the bunches to prevent outspread of rot in the warm and damp environment. It’s an expensive but effective technique, which I’m not aware of being used anywhere else in the world. As for the rainfall that does wash onto the ground, the free-draining soils of the Yamanashi area, many of them volcanic in origin, ensure that the berries themselves don’t swell too much, preventing the resulting wines from suffering from dilution. However Koshu-based wines are normally very delicate. Naturally around 11% ABV – and rarely above 12%.
The Grace winery is one of the few Japanese wineries dedicated to the preservation of this native grape. Established in 1923 by the Misawa family, they’ve gone to great lengths to produce wines of depth and concentration, strictly limiting the normally high yields and controlling the vine’s natural vigour. They’re also one of the few wineries that employ vertical shoot positioning (VSP) instead of the overhead pergola system of training, they use vertical shoot positioning (VSP).
On the nose are aromas reminiscent of citrus fruits and their skins, acacia type white flowers, spiciness of coriander seeds and stone-like minerality. The smooth texture on the palate accompanied by intense dryness and well delineated acidity is impressive. The palate shows a purity typical of wines from the high altitude Hishiyama region with a hint of coolness. A classy wine.