Grace Winery Gris de Koshu 2015. By Jethro Kang.
What is it? Despite its proximity to the Mainland, Japan rarely sends its wines over here. Instead, we get space age toilets, a cartoon cat with no mouth and some pervert banging on about his pen pineapple apple pen. Thankfully, this bottle from Grace Winery is more class than crass. Coming from Katsunuma in Yamanashi prefecture, this is their white wine made from koshu, an indigenous white-flesh grape with a thick, dusty pink skin.
How is it made? Koshu is a hybrid variety that originated in Europe and made its way to Japan via the Silk Road a thousand years ago. It’s now considered the country’s native grape and is mostly grown in Yamanashi prefecture at the base of Mount Fuji. It’s an inland valley blessed with long sunshine, hot days, cold nights, and relatively little rain, which enabled the region to become the hub of local wine production today. For Grace, they ferment and mature their grapes in stainless steel tanks before bottling the wine at 12 per cent abv.
How does it taste? The wine has a silvery yellow hue so faint that it’s almost colourless. The nose elicits aromas of lemon peel, coriander and white pepper, and the palate is soft and slightly sweet with some tingling acidity that leads to a dry, saline-like finish. It works great as a palate cleanser, especially with seafood rich in olive oil or butter, or with eggs. Perhaps most seasonally appropriate: with jiaozi or any form of steamed dumplings that you’ll be stuffing your face with over Chinese New Year. Japan, more wines like this and less of the wacko stuff, please.
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