February / March 2023 Wine Review

The two months since our last blog have gone by quickly. The above picture was taken February 6 at a wine tasting hosted by winemaker and good friend, Shigeyuki Kusunoki. The event took place at the Hotel Edmont Metropolitan in Itabashi and was packed with wine retailers and wholesalers as well as restaurant owners. The mood was upbeat and the winemaker did not disappoint.

January 2023 – The “Best of Nagano Wines” in 2022

When not skiing (or playing golf), we have been contributing monthly to the friendsofnaganowine.com blog for four years! Our first piece was uploaded on January 31, 2019. And over this period a lot has changed in Japan and the world. We won't go down the rabbit hole to document and evidence this point. But we will note that our first blog focused on a tasting and interview with the owner of one of Japan's major independent wineries, Shigeyuki Kusunoki of the Kusunoki Winery. And coincidence or not, we will be attending in February a tasting hosted by Mr. Kusunoki of his new wines in Tokyo.

December 2022 Wine Review

The snow has arrived at our home on the slopes of Mount Kurohime in Nagano. And this is just the first taste of what promises to be a long and very snowy winter. But that is why we have lived here for over a decade. And there really is nothing better than to sit beside our wood-burning stone and sample some local Nagano wines for inclusion in our monthly blog. This time, we are winding the clock back to the start of the pandemic in the Spring of 2020 when the rapid spread of the virus in Japan forced us to cancel plans for a series of wine-tastings and a wine dinner that we had planned for Friends of Nagano Wine in the Tokyo area.

November 2022 Wine Recommendations

We began our blog last month with a gloomy rainy scene from the front porch of our home in Kurohime. So, it is only fair to show what a difference a month makes. And Jim would match up a Kurohime fall afternoon in November with the finest days in the woods of New England or the forested hills of the Ardennes in Belgium -- both of which we have enjoyed many times. That said, sunny, brisk November weather in Nagano comes too late for the grapes -- which are harvested in October. The irony is that nothing goes better with a beautiful fall day in Nagano (or anywhere for that matter) than a nice glass of Merlot. So, we will be introducing three of these in this month's blog.

October 2022 Wine Recommendations

We are opening with this dreary video (click the screen to play) of a rainy October 8 morning in Nagano so as to give a real time glimpse of the challenges to producing good wine in Nagano. This year, we had record snowfalls in Nagano, cool weather in June and August that only rarely felt like summer--and cold, rainy weather throughout September and now into October . This video was taken around 9AM from our front porch: it was raining (you can see the puddles on the gravel driveway) and 10 degrees Celsius.

August 2022 Wine Recommendations

Last month, we wrote about Nobutaka Hirano and the support that he was providing to other small winemakers in Nagano with the making and marketing of their wines. We noted that Hirano had learned his craft locally, working at the Villa d'Est winery and the facilities at Arc en Vigne, an educational center for winemaking established by poet and winemaker Toyoo Tamamura.