Koshu comes to London

The Japanese winemakers of Koshu were in London this week for the second annual tasting of these unusual wines from a specific region just outside Tokyo.

KOJ, the association of 15 producers from this table wine producing region, took over Yashin, one of the top sushi bars in London to showcase their wines with a food matching.

Arranged by master of wine, Lynne Sherriff, the turn out of top UK wine writers and journalists was impressive. Jancis Robinson MW was there with her husband, Nick Lander, who writes the restaurant review for the Financial Times. Hugh Johnson, author of some of the best known and most respected books on wine in the world was there. Anthony Rose, wine writer for The Independent and Peter McCombie, the New Zealand MW and restaurant consultant were also seen among the throng.

The wines come from Koshu grapes which belong to the Vitis Vinifera grape family, from which most of the world’s wines are made. The vine is described as “robust and treelike” and the grapes are thick skinned and pink-grey in colour. Most of the wines are virtually transparent with clean, fresh, appley character with balancing acidity. Some undoubtedly suffered from being tank samples.

Wines that tickled the palate included: Haramo Vintage, Marquis’ Jien Blanc, Rubaiyat, Soryu (all 2010 and tank samples), Alps’ Japanese-style Koshu, L’orient’s, Lumiere’s Hikari and Suntory’s Tomi no Oka (all 2009) which is barrel aged for 10 months and should appeal to the US palate in particular.

Johnson who used to visit Japan regularly, and Rose told Drinks International that in their opinion the sashimi, nimono, yaimono and sushi at Yashin’s was the “best in London”.  The two head chefs, Yasuhiro Mineno (ex-Nobu group) and Sinya Ikeda pride themselves in cooking ‘without soy sauce’.