10 Apr 2019 in Food Culture
Head to the Yamanashi vineyards to learn the art of pairing Japanese wine.
Japan has long been one of the wine industry’s best-kept secrets – and its reputation is growing rapidly. The national grape Koshu has been garnering increasing attention and awards, the Japanese Chardonnay is noted for its freshness and the local Merlot is particularly appreciated for its fruitiness.
The heart of wine country is Yamanashi Prefecture, where the mountains form a barrier to harsh weather, sunshine is plentiful, and pure water nourishes the land.
This is the location of Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Yatsugatake, a relaxed, family-friendly resort built around experiencing the local wine scene to the full. You’ll be able to sample different grape varieties, meet local producers, and discover the art of pairing with Japanese food.
And if you come this spring, you can enjoy the resort’s special Vino e Verdura course menu, which marries the freshness of spring cuisine with light, fruity wines.
Understand the terroir
Among the unique activities on offer is a walking tour of the local vineyards and wineries. There’s no better way to introduce Japanese wine and understand the terroir.
Koshu grapes have been cultivated in Yamanashi for over 1000 years – and the wine they produce is known for its refreshing lightness with citric notes and low alcohol content.
During the walking tour, you’ll discover the secret to area’s successful grape-growing: generous sunshine, relatively dry conditions and a climate with big temperature differences. You’ll learn the subtle differences in soil and exposure that give each wine its own personality. And at the wineries, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes peek at the vinification process.
From beginners to connoisseurs
In addition to the walking tour, Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Yatsugatake organizes a twice-daily Wine School, introducing you to wines from Yamanashi and neighbouring Nagano Prefecture, which together account for over half of Japan’s wine production.
Oenophiles can also reserve a spot at the monthly Makers’ Dinner, a chance to hear a local producer opening up about their methods.
And every day, you can taste and compare wines from the wine shop, which stocks 24 local varieties. A self-service system allows you to sample different tipples and, armed with a handbook, detect the differences.
Winemaker Mie Ikeno, the resort’s partner, is particularly skilled at bringing out the natural sweetness and lack of acidity that characterize Yatsugatake grapes.
She studied her art in France and uses no herbicide, minimum pesticide and a “Gravity Flow System” that allows the squeezed juices and fermented wine to flow naturally downwards without pumps.
Look out for her excellent Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir.
During spring, Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Yatsugatake is offering a special pairing menu with fresh seasonal fare. Spring brings a glut of new ingredients to Japanese cuisine, and you’ll be treated to the perfect pairings with local wines.
How about an appetizer of asparagus, boiled to retain its vivid colour and crunchy texture and served with fresh mushrooms?
It’s paired with a Rue de Vin Sauvignon Blanc from Togi City, Nagano, with the wine’s hint of fresh herbs and rich fruitiness perfectly complementing the bitterness of asparagus.
A refreshing Domaine Oyamada BOW! Blanc from Koshu City, Yamanashi delivers citric notes to bring out the flavours of the paste and a sweetness to complement the takenoko.
If you’re feeling inspired, you can sign up for a pairing course with one of the resort’s sommeliers.
Each season lends itself to different combinations, with spring cuisine particularly adapted to rosé wines made using lightly fermented black grapes and orange wines produced by pickling the skins of grapes used for white wine.
Relax with wine
The final ingredient of your stay?
A relaxing session at the resort’s VINO SPA, where you can choose from a body scrub using Merlot grapes or a grape seed oil treatment.
At Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Yatsugatake, you get to experience Japanese wine in all its facets!