Visiting two excellent sake producers

On my recent Japanese trip I had a chance to visit two high-end artisanal sake breweries. It was really interesting, especially coming from a wine background, to see how sake is made.

Rice at various degrees of polishing

The sake making process begins with the polishing of rice. The amount of material removed is expressed in [...]

Japan eating: Omi beef sukiyaki at Restaurant Moroshima

Omi beef, thinly sliced

Another great meal in Japan; another stop in this great gastronomic journey. This time, Omi beef sukiyaki at Restaurant Morishima, in Omi-hachaman in the Shiga prefecture not far from Kyoto.

Omi beef sashimi

This is a restaurant devoted to Omi beef. This is one of the top three types of Wagyu beef, [...]

An amazing meal at Houraiken, Nagoya, with Japanese wine

Hot on the heels of one of the most memorable meals of my life a few days ago in Tokyo, I had a very special experience last night, dining at the main restaurant of Houraiken in Nagoya (they have three branches). Houraiken is an old, traditional restaurant whose speciality is eel (unagi).

Here is a short [...]

Sushi Nishimura, Tokyo, with Chablis and Assyrtiko to match

I had one of the most amazing meals of my life in Tokyo. I was lucky enough to dine at Sushi Nishimura with Kenichi Ohashi, Yamamoto Akihiko and Moto Okoshi. This is a beautiful, small restaurant in Roppongi run by chef/owner Fumiteru Nishimura. We enjoyed a succession of amazing dishes, and compared the sushi-matching abilities [...]

Tasting some Japanese wines from the Hokkaido region

Today I got to taste some Japanese wines, as part of a tasting for Yamamoto Akihiko’s www.winereport.jp publication.

These wines are all from Hokkaido, a relatively new wine region in the far north of Japan that is now the most important in the country. Because of global warming it’s now possible to plant vinifera varieties here, [...]

Adega d'Aruga Bosque 2014 Yamanashi, Japan

This is a lovely wine that I got to try this week courtesy of winemaker Youki Hirayama, who was over to judge at the International Wine Challenge. I reviewed one of his other wines a while back. This is a 100% Koshu, Japan’s indigenous variety that’s been grown in the Yamanashi region for some 1200 years. [...]

A delicious Koshu from Japan: Grace Kayagutake 2013

Koshu is a Japanese grape variety. It produces large bunches of pink-skinned grapes, which are used to make white wine. Often it’s quite neutral, but here’s one that has some real interest.

Grace Koshu Kayagutake 2013 Yamanashi, Japan
11.5% alcohol. This is interesting. It has an aromatic, gravelly, mineral edge to the citrussy nose. [...]

Katsunuma Jyozo Misaka 2011, and amazing natural Japanese Koshu wine

Yesterday, one of the team of judges I was working with at the International Challenge was Youki Hirayama, who’s winemaker at Katsunuma Jyozo winery in the Yamanashi region of Japan. He had a bottle of his wine with him which we tried after the tasting. It was made without adding sulfur dioxide, and it’s quite [...]