As grapes were never indigenous to Japan all grapevines had been introduced to the region with the movement of the spice route and silk roads over 2,000 years. It is believed that about 1,300 years ago grapevines were introduced to Japan where the climate was too hot, cold, wet – too extreme – to grow grapes for wine.
Ultimately the existing grape variety most successfully grown in Japan became known as Koshu, which was the then name for the prefecture in which it grew. This prefecture then took the name of a Japanese prince and became Yamanashi, which remains the principal region producing Koshu. Responsible today for 40% of all Japanese grown wine grapes, it is believed to be the naturalised hybrid of a Georgian grape variety. Ampelographers continue to isolate the DNA of Koshu, but we do not actually know, outright, its source. What we do know is that it is a lurid pink on the vine, generally grown in the local tana method (overhead bamboo trellis).
Château Mercian is the oldest established winery in Japan, starting out in 1870 having sent two young men to France to understand wine making in the European tradition. Indeed the descendants of these two men are still growing Koshu for Mercian today.
Koshu grapes are grown in Yamanashi Prefecture and harvest took place from early September to early October. Fermentation in a stainless steel tank at 18 to 20 degrees for about 14 days, The wine was aged for about 8 months in a stainless steel tank.
Pale yellow colour. Refreshing aromas of citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, sudachi and apple, nuance of toasted bread derived from Sur Lie Method appears. Fresh acidity is accented by pleasant astringency extracted from the skin of Koshu grapes.
Bang to go with green salad, various sashimi or seafood dishes with toasty flavours such as fish pie, roasted Spanish mackerel seasoned with Saikyo miso, sautéed cuttlefish or seafood paella