We apologize for being a bit late in getting this out (it’s already mid-September!). August was a busy month with not only a successful “virtual” tasting of a group of Sapporo’s Grande Polaire wines on August 10, but also Mariko’s departure for New York City. Despite her departure, we will continue to introduce you to the wines of Nagano and periodically hold a few “virtual” wine tastings with Mariko joining in from the United States.
For those of you who could not attend of August 10 event, we wanted to give you a brief overview of the wines we tasted and the discussion those wines begat:
Our August 10 wine tasting featured several wines from Sapporo’s Grande Polaire series specifically from its Azuminoikeda vineyard in Nagano: the 2017 Chardonnay, the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2017 Merlot and the 2015 Syrah. The Syrah was the clear favorite, and we talked quite a bit at the tasting about the potential for Syrah-based wines in Nagano (red wines produced in the prefecture are still overwhelmingly made from Merlot grapes). There was some disagreement on the Sauvignon Blanc with a majority finding the 2015 vintage passed due (most single variety Sauvignon Blanc’s are meant to be drunk within a year or two) and a small but unwavering minority finding it to have aged well.
As for the Merlot, this was another favorite, with nice acidity balanced against soft tannins and not too juicy but not too green red fruit flavors. But it didn’t quite have the character or memorability of the Syrah. Some also enjoyed the Chardonnay, which is made in a Burgundian style with clear oak notes.
What made the discussion particularly special is that we were joined by Mr. Daisaku Ishihara, the viticulturist in charge of the Azuminoikeda vineyards. He gave a lively presentation about the vineyard that showed the potential for the Nagano terroir. The discussion also veered off a bit (at Jim’s initiative) as to what extent the amount of alcohol might affect the taste and the overall impression of a wine. Nagano reds because of the area’s relatively cool, wet climate lack the high alcohol content of wines from areas like the United States and Australia—is this necessarily a problem? Opinions are split.
All wines may be purchased on the Wine Market Party website.