Nagano region, Japan (4) Rue de Vin

Hideaki Koyami is the man behind Rue de Vin. He began working in Yamanashi 20 years ago. Before that he was employed by an electric company. In 2006 he moved to Tomi, and initially he planted Chardonnay on abandoned land. His vineyard area has grown as he’s taken over new land that was once fruit trees but had gone wild.

Hideaki’s current holdings are 6.5 hectares of vines ranging from 740-830 m, but there’s also some Cabernet Sauvignon at 540 m in a separate plot. The vineyards are divided into very small parcels. A wide range of varieties are planted including Chardonnay (40% of area), Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and then bits of Gewurztraminer, Pnot Gris, Cabernet Franc and Gamay.

The winery was built in 2010. Hideaki thinks that the variety with the most potential here is Sauvignon Blanc, and this will be the focus of his new plantings, as well as Cabernet Franc. He says that one of the important things for the future for Japanese wine is to reduce the labour inputs (most viticulture here is like gardening), and Sauvignon can help because this needs less spraying than some of the other varieties.

Rue de Vin Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Nagano, Japan
2018 was a hot year and it caused some problems. This has a slight hint of eggy reduction on the nose, along with precise citrus fruit. The palate is taut and crisp with good acidity and ripe pear and citrus fruit as well as a touch of passionfruit. Supple and fruity with a twist of bitter grapefruit pith on the finish. The reduction should resolve. 85/100

Rue de Vin Chardonnay Colline D’Or 2017 Nagano, Japan
Fermented in barrel. Deep coloured. 20% new oak. Broad and nutty with some spiciness. It’s rich with quite a strong oak imprint. Bold style with rich peach and pear fruit and a long, nutty, cedary finish. Well made but the oak is prominent. 88/100

Rue de Vin Clair 2016 Nagano, Japan
This is Pinot Noir (a portion of the sparkling base, with a bit of red Pinot Noir added), and it’s a very attractive pale pink with some orange hints. This has high acidity with some bitter herb notes as well as bold pear and citrus fruit. Orange peel, almond and there’s some fennel, too. Complex and taut, and full of flavour, this is a very distinctive wine. 89/100

Rue de Vin Esprit NV Nagano, Japan
This sparkling wine is 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir, containing four base wines and three vintages. 24-36 months on lees. Fresh, lively and quite complex with brisk citrus fruit together with some pear, apple and a touch of toast. Lovely fruit here, with some depth to it and a nice savouriness. Finishes fresh with a touch of lemon peel. Ambitious stuff. 90/100

Rue de Vin Pinot Noir 2017 Nagano, Japan
Warm sweet nose with some leafy, herbal characters and bright red fruits. Juicy palate with sour cherries, plums, spice and some undergrowth. There’s lots to like here, with nice fruit and some savoury notes, but it finishes a bit grippy and with some bitter hints. Finishes firm and compact. 88/100

Rue de Vin La Collection ‘Les Amis’ Isurabe Merlot 2017 Nagano, Japan
This was made from brought in grapes from the southern part of Nagano because it was a bad year for Merlot here. This is bright and vivid with fresh berry fruits and a hint of mint. On the palate it shows direct, vivid, clean fruit with freshness and a slightly bitter twist, as well as grippy tannins. Intense style, but very fresh. 88/100

Rue de Vin Kyoho Sparkling 2016 Nagano, Japan
This is a labrusca variety. Grown by a farmer who was first to plant these grapes in the area. The farmer asked him to make sparkling wine from them, and it has been a successful wine. Distinctive stuff: it’s coral pink colour with powerful flavours of sweet jelly, apples and strawberries, together with some bright cranberry notes and a hint of tequila. Distinctive with good acidity. 84/100

 

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