October 2019 Recommendations

This month we are featuring wines from the Chikumagawa Wine District of Nagano. The area is named for the river running through it from the Japanese Alps over 350km to the Sea of Japan. The vineyards are principally situated around Saku, Komoro, Tomi, Ueda and Suzaka cities. Over the past 15 years, these local governments have embraced winemaking as a means of invigorating their agricultural base and attracting tourism. The friendly regulatory environment has attracted interest and investment from both large companies and individuals with a passion for a wine, creating a very dynamic environment for winemaking and lots of interesting wines. We feature two of them.


Chateau Mercian Mariko Merlot 2016

Nagano is increasingly known for its Merlots and this wine from Chateau Mercian is near the top of the class with a price point that compares favorably with wines of similar quality from California and Washington State. The color of the wine is a deep rich ruby, the alcohol a satisfying 13 percent and the finish clean yet fruity. Chateau Mercian’s headquarters is in nearby Yamanashi prefecture, but it begin growing grapes on a hilltop near Ueda City in Nagano in 2003. That vineyard, Mariko Vineyard, has grown to 20 hectares and has become one of the preeminent vineyards in Japan. This fall, Chateau Mercian opened a facility for making wine as well as a restaurant and tasting room at Mariko Vineyard making it a must stop on any wine tour of the prefecture.

4990 yen
The wine may be purchased online through, for example, Rakuten.


Hase Winery Fukuihara Rose 2018

This wine is a demonstration of the creativity and imagination that individuals are bringing to the making of Nagano wine.   The wine maker. Mitsuo Hase, is a former record company executive, who loved wine and ultimately left the corporate world to open up a winery in Tomi City in 2015 under the patronage of Villa d’Est winery owner, Tamamura Toyoo.   Four years later, he is producing interesting wines at more than reasonable prices.   This Rose is a blend of foreign and Japanese grapes:   mainly Chardonnay but also Pinot Noir, Zweigelt and Muscat Bailey A.  The result is both an imaginative and tasty blending with pleasant fruit and acidity that is just perfect for a summer picnic.  We are looking forward to the directions that this new winemaker will take next and delighted at the more than reasonable price point that he has put this wine on the market.   It makes you want to buy two or more – and save on this shipping costs!

1980 yen
The wine may be purchased online through, for example, Rakuten.


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