Nagano region, Japan (15) Domaine Hase/Hikaru Farm

We followed a tiny, icy road in the foot of the mountain, heading up to Hikaru Farm in Takayama Village. This is where Mitsuhiro Hase makes wine, with vineyards ranging from 800-850 m in altitude. He’s another graduate of Arc-en-Vigne, and the 6 hectare property has 4.2 hectares of vines. The rest of the property grows buckwheat (for soba noodles) and blueberries.

Mitsuhiro Hase

Mitsuhiro is planning to put more vines in the ground, and in front of the winery he’s growing Riparia rootstock for field grafting.

He used to work with a music company, and because of his job he had a lot of chances to drink expensive wine. Initially he loved Chateauneuf-du-Pape, then later Burgundy, and most recently Alsace. He loves the idea of cofernmenting different varieties.

Mitsuhiro didn’t think he could make quality wine in Japan, but then he tasted the Villa d’Est Pinot Noir and recognized its potential. The next day he quit his job and wrote a letter to the owner of Arc-en-Vigne and Villa d’Est. He then rented the property he’s now on (it was abandoned) and spent a year studying at Arc-en-Vigne while he began planting the vineyard. He’s planted 20 different varieties, and farms all the vines organically, using wild yeasts for the ferments.

As well as his studies, he worked at 10R Winery with Bruce Gutlove, and Black Estate in North Canterbury, New Zealand. His desire is to make natural: he was fascinated by the flavours of mature fine wine, and found that a similar flavour in young natural wine.

The first wines were produced in 2017, when Mitsuhiro made 4000 bottles. In 2019 he’ll be making over 10 000, and has plans to increase the vineyard. There are two ranges: a ‘daily’ or ‘table’ wine range, from bought-in grapes, and a premium domain range. Mitsuhiro would like to avoid adding sulfites altogether, but currently adds 20-40 ppm. Because he doesn’t like adding things to the wine such as sugar or acid, he grows a range of early and late grapes and then co-ferments them to get natural balance.

The wines will in future be labelled Pinot Fan for the domaine wines, and Fukuihara for the negoce wines.

Domaine Hase Fukuihara Blanc 2017 Nagano, Japan
This is a blend of various white varieties. It’s supple, fresh, lively and delicate with lovely grapefruit and tangerine notes, as well as some residual carbon dioxide. Pretty notes of table grape, with many other layers of flavour, as well as some tangerine brightness. 92/100

Domaine Hase Hikaru Farm Blanc 2016 Nagano, Japan
This was the first vintage and all eleven varieties were blended together. Orange/copper colour. So distinctive, with savoury characters as well as tangerine, orange peel, spice, some citrus and herbs, as well as a hint of raisin. Striking if a little quirky. 90/00

Domaine Hase Pinot Fan Blanc 2018 Nagano, Japan (barrel sample)
Chardonnay is the dominant variety, but there’s also some Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. There’s some richness, but also a lively spiciness under the pear and peach fruit. Table grape and citrus peel, too. Lovely purity and substance to it. Very fine grained with great balance. 93/100

Domaine Hase Fukuihara Rouge 2017 Nagano, Japan
This is Muscat Bailey A, picked with 14 g/l TA so it needed a long maturation. Very acidic and linear with juicy berry fruits. No added sulfites. Has some sour cherry character, with bright supple fruit. 88/100

Domaine Hase Fukuihara Rosé 2018 Nagano, Japan
Tank sample. Zweigelt, Pinot Noir and Muscat Bailey A. Very juicy and bright with some savoury edges. Fresh with high acidity. 87-88/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

Nagano Wine Region (2019)

Nagano Wine Region (2018)

 

 

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