Nagano wine region, Japan (5) - Obusé Winery, Domaine Sogga

This is one of Nagano’s best producers. Domaine Sogga, also known as Obusé Winery, is based in Obusé and is run by Akihiko Soga (just the one ‘g’ in his name, but two in the domaine’s).

Akihiko Soga in one of his vineyards

Akihiko is clearly talented, and also nicely quirky. The winery is an old […]

Zephyr Wines, Marlborough, New Zealand

Ben Glover

I remember meeting Ben Glover years ago (in 2006), when he was working for Brent Maris at Wither Hills. This is where he established his reputation, and later he developed this as winemaker for Mud House. He left fairly recently and is now busy developing his family business, Zephyr.

The Glover family come from […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (4) - Kusunoki Winery

Shigeyuki Kusunoki

Shigeyuki Kusunoki started his vineyard in 2004, and then built his winery in 2011. This is a second career for Shigeyuki, who was a salary man for 20 years working in aircraft leasing. But he got bitten by the wine bug and decided to move back to his home town to make wine. […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (3) - Hyashi Nouen

Hayashi Nouen is one of the big players in the Nagano region. Founded in 1911, they have 45 hectares of vines of their own and contract a further 30. In total, the production is 800 000 bottles. Their brand name is Goichi.

This 60-year old Merlot vine is the oldest Merlot in Japan

One of the […]

Marlborough, where big can be good: Villa Maria

Villa Maria describe themselves as New Zealand’s most awarded winery. They became this through the clever strategy of making lots of small production high-end wines and then entering all the competitions. Back in 1962 founder George Fistonich entered a couple of his reds in the Royal Easter Show and won second and third prize, so […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (2) - Domaine Nakajima

Yutaka Nakajima was studying at chef school when he came across wine. He’s a big fan of natural wine, and also has a strong affection for Alsace. He has experience working in the Loire and Baden (Germany), and in 2011 he decided to plant a vineyard in Tomi, Nagano. The small winery followed in 2014.

Nagano wine region, Japan (1) - Kido Winery

Akihito Kida, Kida Wines

This was a good start to my visits in Nagano prefecture, Japan. Akihito Kido was born in Aichi prefecture, and he studied winemaking and viticulture at the University of Yamanashi. He went there because he wanted to make wine, but hadn’t decided at that stage whether or not he’d establish his […]

Japan: an overview of Japanese wine, and why we should be interested

A tribute to local wine at Shiojiri station in the Nagano region

I’m in Japan. The purpose of this trip is to explore Nagano, which is one of the three main Japanese wine regions. Some perspective on the Japanese wine scene. Winegrowing started here 140 years ago under the strategy of the Meiji government (the Meiji […]

Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV

This is one of the best NV blends out there. It’s made from 60 different crus, with 40% reserve wines (a very high proportion), and bottled in 2011 before disgorgement in 2017. There is no oak in the cellar here. Average age of reserve wines is 10 years: most are there to iron out inconsistencies […]

Great wines at Hibana, a natural wine bar in Tokyo

Last night I arrived in Tokyo and headed out to Hibana (3F Third Halcyon, 3-6 Araki Cho, Shinyinku-ku, Tokyo 160-0007). It’s a relatively new natural wine bar run by Atsushi Nagashima, who was previously a sommelier at an Italian restaurant. We ate small plates and he served us a succession of Italian wines, all of […]