Nagano region, Japan (12) Takayashiro Farm

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Nagano region, Japan (12) Takayashiro Farm

I visited Takayashiro Farm with the president of the company, Ko Takehada, and the winemaker Kenjiro Ikeda. It’s based in Nagano city. Ko Takehada previously worked for a subsidiary company of Suntory selling juice. After he got married he quit Suntory and moved to Nagano, selling liquor wholesale. In 1995 he started to grow all kinds of fruits: apples, table grapes (such as Kyoho), and peaches.

Kenjiro and Ko

In 1998 he first planted wine grapes, beginning with Cabernet Sauvignon, because he says he is a hard drinker and he wanted to drink wine. He sold the grapes he didn’t use himself to St Cousair. In the early 2000s, Manns Wine asked local farmers whether they could grow vinifera, so he planted more wine grapes. 1999 was the peak of the sales volume of wine in Japan. After 2000 the volume decreased drastically. The IT bubble burst caused this slump, although it has now recovered, but it meant that Manns stopped buying the grapes, so Ko decided to make more wine using the grapes he’d grown.

The mayor of Nagano City proposed that he should establish a winery, because at that time there was no winery in Nagano City. So he decided to start his own winery, establishing the company in 2003 and starting the winery in 2004. Initially, there were four farmers who contributed grapes to the winery, and Ko began growing lots of different varieties – 13 different ones including Chardonnay, Kerner, Riesling, Viogner, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Barbera, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Zweigelt. Right now they have 6.2 hectares of vines.

As well as using their own grapes, they sometimes buy in grapes if they are available. Ko thinks he has to contribute to the rural industry, which is why he sometimes accepts grapes from farmers who have some to sell. This area is famous for table grapes such as Shine Muscat or Nagano Purple. So if the weather is bad and these are unsaleable, he will take those grapes and make wine from them.

Total production is 35 000 bottles per year, in 20 different wines. They also make fruit juices and jams, and sell table grapes.

Takayashiro Farm Chardonnay Sparkling 2017
There’s a herby edge to the sweet pear fruit. Has some attractive fruit but there’s a slight rubbery character here. Juicy finish. Easy drinking style. 82/100

Takayashiro Farm Schonburger Sparkling 2018
A 200 bottle trial: Charmat method. Very aromatic and pretty. Grapey and sweet with attractive crisp fruit and some rose petal prettiness. Moscato style. 11% alcohol. 85/100

Takayashiro Farm Shine Muscat Sparkling 2018
Injection method. Fresh, aromatic, grapey and rich. Lychee and rose petal with lovely balance. Joyful, sweet and fresh on the finish: very effective. 88/100

Takayashiro Farm Nagano Purple Sparkling 2017
Fruity, quite delicate and expressive with sweet pear, table grape and subtle cherry notes. It’s pale pink in colour and relatively subtle, with some sweetness on the finish. 85/100

Takayashiro Farm Takayashiro Blanc Sparkling 2017
84% Sauvignon and 16% Kerner. Taut and herby with some rubbery, cheesy hints. Dry and tangy with lots offruit but a slightly awkward bitter, pithy edge. 81/100

Takayashiro Farm Pinot Noir Sparkling 2017
Red/pink in colour. Nicely savoury edge to the cherry and plum fruit with nice freshness. Has a bit of grip. Dry and satisfying with some hints of earth and spice. Nice food wine. 87/100

Takayashiro Farm Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Current release. This has a little evolution, and it’s showing nicely with a nutty, slightly spicy edge to the pear and citrus fruit. Waxy and fresh, with some subtle almond notes. 87/100

Takayashiro Farm Viognier 2015
Subtle and light with some varietal character and a soft mid-palate. Textured pear fruit with some nectarine, and a touch of lychee. Nice soft texture here: quite thought provoking. A light style. Works well, but would this have been better younger? 87/100

Takayashiro Farm Chardonnay Barrel Aged 2016
Nutty and spicy with some vanilla hints. Nice oak here, but it does take a lead role, which some might appreciate and others not. This is aged not fermented, which is why the oak isn’t so well integrated. Nice fruit though with good balance and acidity. 86/100

Takayashiro Farm Takayashiro Blanc 2016
A blend. Aromatic and fruity with nice weight and some sweetness. Very pretty and easy with nice balance. Clean and very well made for the price (Y1300). Off dry. 86/100

Takayashiro Farm Takayashiro Rouge 2016
Merlot-dominated blend, with 21% Fuji no Yume (hybrid) in the mix. Fresh, light and expressive with lovely clean, pure red cherry and raspberry fruit. Has a smoothness to it, with nice fresh fruit. Elegant, drinkable and delicious. Great for the price (R1300). 88/100

Takayashiro Farm Dew of Takayashiro 2016
Varietal Fuji no Yume, which has Merlot as one of its parents and which has small berries. Deep coloured. Lovely fleshy cherry and raspberry fruit with a lushness, and some suble meaty hints. Lovely richness to the fruit, which has great freshness and harmony. A lovely wine with lovely purity. You’d never guess this as a hybrid. 90/100

Takayashiro Farm Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Fresh, brooding blackcurrant fruit nose. Lovely palate showing some development with a hint of earth and spice. Very well made with nice savoury hints and supple blackcurrant notes, with some freshness. Tastes like a mature Cru Bourgeois: it’s really nice. Good development. 90/100

Takayashiro Farm Cabernet Franc 2014
Supple, light and elegant with a leady edge to the pure red cherry and raspberry fruit. This is a light style but the fruit is compact and balanced with nice red fruit core and fine green leafy hints. Shows a lightness of touch and real elegance. Very stylish. 90/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

Nagano Wine Region (2019)

Nagano Wine Region (2018)

 

 

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