Koshu of Japan (KOJ) in London

KOJ returned to London in January 2011 with their second trade tasting at the Imagination Gallery. 15 producers crowded the room, each with an interpreter; to present their wines. They were an amazingly hospitable group of wine-makers keen to share their knowledge and experience.
Koshu is an indigenous Japanese variety grown in the Yamanashi Prefecture situated approx. 70 miles west of Tokyo. The grape is indigenous in as much as it is the descendant of a Vitis vinifera that had been brought to the country of the Rising Sun along the Silk Route some 1,200 years ago, claims the Oxford Companion to Wine. A good number of photos demonstrated that the grape has a pinkish skin colour and the bunches were seemingly large.
Yamanashi is suitable for grape growing, because it is somewhat inland and Mount Fuji provides a natural barrier to the rain in the south of the prefecture, which results in an average 900 mm rain per annum.
Most Koshu wines are stainless steel fermented at a low temperature (15 – 20°C) in order to preserve the gentle aromatics and bottled young to capture their freshness and fragrance. There was an example for barrel aged Koshu, such as Tomi No Oka, whilst Mercian Koshu showed the effects of keeping the new wine on lees for 3 months. Both techniques added some complexity to the wines without compromising its varietal character of purity and freshness. Here are the tasting notes arranged in alphabetical order of the wineries.

Japanese Style Wine Koshu, Alps Wine, 2009
Koshu, Fuefuki, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.40%
Medium deep lemon with a tiny green hue. Highly intense nose with fleshy stone-fruits, pear and a bit of bruised apples. Fresh with plenty of quince giving it a good body. Medium on the finish.15.2

Grace Koshu Private Reserve, Grace Wine, 2010
Koshu, Katsunuma, Yamanashi, Japan, 12.00%
Watery, lime. Extremely delicate and lively nose, peach petals. Dry, salty and a rich minerality.  16.4

Grace Koshu Kayagatake (tank sample), Grace Wine, 2010
Koshu, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.00%
More floral than the 2009, with ripe peach and zesty lemon, ripe fruits overall supported by lively acids and well structured backpalate.16.2

Grace Koshu Kayagatake, Grace Wine, 2009
Koshu, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.60%
Almost watery white, tiny lemon hue. Floral nose with rose petals, limes and plenty of lemon. Very fresh on the palate, light-bodied, medium on the finish. 15.9

Haramo Vintage Koshu, Haramo Wine, 2010
Koshu, Katsunuma, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.00%
Almost watery, tiny green hue. Very fresh nose and palate: gooseberry, limestone and a hint of quince, minerals and slightly dilute back-palate. Light bodied, medium, salty finish. 15.7

L’Orient Koshu, L’Orient, 2009
Koshu, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.40%
Almost watery. Apple peels, quince and lime. Concentration of flavours and intensity of salty tones with a silky texture and long finish, which makes up for the complexity. 16.1

L’Orient Koshu, L’Orient, 2010
Koshu, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.40%
Slightly more pronounced than 2009. Lime, soft silky texture with salty tones and restrained aromatics, but riper fruits. Peach and subtle floral with medium finish. 15.8

Lumière Koshu Hikari, Lumière, 2009
Koshu, Iwade, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.80%
Light lemon with some cheesy tones, floral and big fruity body with peach and lychee on the mid-palate. Very good concentration and complexity. 16.3

Lumière Petillant, Lumière, 2009
Koshu, Yamanashi,Japan, 11.20%
Rose petals, biscotti and rich apples, gentle, but persistent mousse. Perfumed, brut and medium finish. 15.8

Lumière Koshu Hikari, Lumière, 2009
Koshu, Iwade, Yamanashi, Japan
Cloudy, green hue, pinkish lemon. Ripe fruits, fresh and pungent saltiness on the palate. Gooseberry, floral and a medium finish. 15.7

Jien Blanc, Marquis, 2010
Koshu, Yamanashi, Japan
Lemon, green hue, very light on the palate, marked minerality and embracing, soft acidity. Green mid-palate, refreshing and medium finish. 16.3

Koshu Verinho (Tank Sample), Mars Wine, 2010
Koshu, Hosaka, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.00%
Very light lemon with a slight pink hue. Soft and silky, subdued floral tones of rose petals and lilies, fruits of peach. Texture above concentration. 15.6

Rubaiyat Koshu (Tank sample), Marufuji Winery, 2010
Koshu, Katsunuma, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.80%
Very light, watery. Very fresh nose: citrus and floral. Tiny oxidative notes. Very watery on the palate, dilute lemon with saltiness and some grassy tones. Very light in aromatics. 15.3

Koshu (Tank sample), Mercian, 2010
Koshu, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.00%
Lemon with pink hue. Racing acidity with generous lemon. Very clean, rose petals on the mid-palate, then a bit watery back-palate. Medium finish. 15.5

Zenkouji Kitahara (Tank sample), Sadoya, 2010
Koshu, Kofu, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.10%
Light watery lemon. Lively on the palate, lemon, lime, salty and gentle rose petals. A bit steely, it lacks concentration and short on the finish.14.7

Soryu Koshu (Tank sample), Soryu, 2010
Koshu, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.00%
Watery pink and lemon. Rose, lily, low concentration, but soft and silky texture, fresh and scented with rose petals. Minerals on the medium finish. Gentle and delicate. 16.1

Tomi No Oku Koshu, Tomy No Oku Winery, Suntory, 2009
Koshu, Tominooka, Yamanashi, Japan, 12.50%
Pronounced lemon. Honeydew, pear, acacia. Very fresh lemon and lime, acacia, rounded mouth-feel, creamy tones. Petals on the finish. 16

Sol Lucet Koshu, Yamanashi Wine Ltd., 2010
Koshu,Katsunuma, Yamanashi, Japan
Very light lemon. Light body, but very fragrant rose petals and peach with lime. Fresh and long finish. 16.3

Madoromi, Yamato Wine, 2010
Koshu, Yamanashi, Japan, 11.20%
Very light lemon. Roses and lilies in the nose. Quite a bit of fruitiness, lemon and minerals all the way through. Medium concentration, silky texture. 16

Mineral KOSHU+WA, Yamato Wine, 2009
Koshu, Yamanashi, Japan,11.10%
Light lemon. Citrus fruits and saltiness, less intense than the Madoromi, fruity and floral mid-palate with medium finish. 15.7


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