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.
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.
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.
There is an old saying in English that "it is an ill wind that blows no good". Clearly, the global pandemic, waxing climate change and the precipitous collapse of the post Cold War global order fit the description of an "ill wind". But is there a "silver lining" in all this?
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.
It may be July, but at our home 800 meters high on the slopes of Mount Kurohime in Nagano you still need a jacket in the evening and appreciate a blanket at night. The story elsewhere in Japan is different. Tokyo reached a temperature of 37 degrees centigrade this past week and Yamanashi prefecture, which … Continue reading July 2022 Wine Recommendations
Jim's good friend and wine drinking partner, C.W. Nicol, passed away two years ago last April. Nic held a black belt in karate and worked briefly in the United Kingdom as a professional wrestler. He was a "bear" of a man, who seemed indestructible. And while he is now gone, his legacy, the Afan Forest Foundation and the 35 hectares of forest land that he brought back to life continues.
Spring has a AT LAST come to Nagano -- even so it has been among the wettest and coldest on record. Our Nagano home sits 800 meters above sea level and there are still traces of snow in the shadows and much more on the tops of the 2500 meter plus mountains that surround us. Nonetheless, we recently hosted a small tasting of Nagano wines at our hilltop gazebo for our neighbors and have another one scheduled for early June.