A refreshing white wine from the amazing Chateau Mercian Yamanashi winery that was created using Japan’s famous Koshu grape, resulting in a refreshing, fruity expression that brings citrus fruits, lime zest, baked apple and gentle aromas of toasted bread. It’s a compelling and all-round excellent expression that any wine-lover will adore.
The indigenous grape of Japan, Koshu produces distinctly elegant citrussy wines coveted both for their supreme balance and their impeccable heritage. There are many tales of the origin of Koshu, from being discovered growing in the wild in Yamanashi prefecture to being planted by the famous monk Gyoki; what we know for certain is that it has been carefully grown and perfected for many centuries in Yamanashi and now flourishes across Japan’s winemaking regions. Coveted for the precision of balance it allows in light-bodied white wines and the unique combination of citrus, soft fruit and saline flavours, Koshu is a must-try for anyone seeking a uniquely Japanese style of wine.
Koshu has a remarkable versatility, rewarding exploration. Styles range from the classic (light and citrusy) to more intense and peachy expressions, achieved by growing at high altitude, highly complex and bready expressions, through contact with the lees, and oak aged bottlings that ooze nuttiness and sweet fruit. Notably some wineries have started to produce “orange” Koshu, a style achieved through higher lees contact and barrel ageing with a character of luscious fruit balanced by savoury breadiness and salinity.
Due to the uniquely light, crisp and citrussy nature of most Koshu wine, it is a fantastic accompaniment to Japan’s equally unique cuisine. We highly recommend pairing white Koshu with sashimi and sushi, but it is also ideal paired with many Japanese seafood and sticky rice centred dishes. For oaked and orange Koshu then more robust and meat dishes are the perfect accompaniment, even red meat.
Koshu is the quintessential grape of Japan, a must-try for those beginning their exploration into Japanese wine and a favourite of connoisseurs seeking the sublime precision of this most famous of grapes.
The birthplace of Japanese winemaking, Yamanashi prefecture is the largest and most famous of Japan’s winemaking regions. Surrounded by tall mountains, overlooked by Mt. Fuji and bathed in long hours of sunlight, it is no wonder that Yamanashi has established itself as the leading region for exceptional quality wine. Only two hours’ drive west of Tokyo, this landlocked prefecture is the epicentre of wine tourism in Japan and boasts the highest concentration of wineries of any region. It has a rich clay soil that, whilst unideal for cultivating rice, is perfect for viticulture. The low rainfall, sunlight and sheltered topography of the area help produce some of the finest quality grapes – and most sought-after wines - in Japan.
Yamanashi’s quest for quality and authenticity can be typified through its successes in becoming Japan’s first Geographical Indication (GI) for wine and championing legislation introduced in 2018 to only allow wine made with 100% Japanese grapes to be labelled “Japanese Wine”. It is impossible to talk about Yamanashi without mentioning Koshu Grapes, Japan’s native grape variety. Yamanashi has been growing Koshu grapes for centuries; the name “Koshu” was the ancient name for Yamanashi. Yamanashi has also been at the forefront of hybridising new grape varieties (such as the outstandingly soft and luscious Muscat Bailey A) that make the most out of the unique climate and terroir.
A wine from Yamanashi is the traditional starting point for those exploring Japanese wine for the first time and it is a region that enthusiasts find themselves returning to time and time again.