October 2021 Recommendations

We are on the verge of Fall and the harvest season in Nagano. Jim is looking forward to joining in the picking and sorting of the grapes at the nearby San Cousair winery later this month. The weather was quite wet and cloudy during September and the vineyard manager, Makoto Tsuchiya, is a bit anxious if the rains continue through October. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

August 2021 Recommendations

Summer has come to Nagano – and we are enjoying a succession of warm, sunny days ranging up to 30 degrees Celsius and dropping in the evening to the low 20’s – an ideal diurnal range for Syrah grapes. As we noted before, the climate in Nagano is friendly to the Syrah grape and growers here are increasingly featuring this wine in their portfolios. Another reason may be that the wine produced from the Syrah grape in Nagano agrees better with Japanese sensibilities. It is light, fruity and hints of Japan’s local pepper, “sansho”. The contrast with California, Spain and Australian Shiraz wines can be quite stark.

March 2021 Recommendations

Recently, we have been featuring boutique winemakers in Nagano spurred on by our local wine shop, Yorozuya, which takes pride in finding new wine makers and showcasing their products.  But for this month, we decided to circle back and look at what three winemakers we have visited and written about previously are doing. What we found is that the three winemakers that we “liked” in the past are now creating wine that we really “like.” It is as if a corner has been turned—and much more quickly than we had expected.

June 2020 Recommendations

ALPS markets a very nice Chardonnay for 2700 yen under its Musee du Vin Maestro brand. This wine has a nice gold color and a fruity, fresh taste. But for 300 yen more a bottle, you get an entirely different experience: The Dynastie Shiojiri brand exclusively uses grapes from fields that are managed directly by the company rather than from contract farmers.

July 2019 Recommendations

July is one of those in between months in Japan: rainy at the start and then full-on summer by the close. We are bringing to you three wines that should help you through the transition.  Interestingly, two of them are made from Japanese local varietals and the third is a successful experiment in combining Chardonnay grapes from different vintages.