Whisper it gently but Koshu wines are no longer just a niche to appear on the most avant-garde restaurant or Asian wine lists, but are now a regular feature on classic and traditional lists too – like at the Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. If you have yet to discover or want to find out more about Koshu wines then keep February 5 free for what is going to be the biggest tasting of Koshu wines held in the UK. Here’s Yuka Ogasawara from Koshu of Japan to tell us all about it.
Koshu is slowly finding its way onto more premium wine lists as sommeliers and the importers who supply them start to appreciate just what a difference Koshu wines can make to a restaurant’s overall wine range.
Can you let us know what buyers can expect from the Koshu of Japan tasting on February 5?
The February tasting is the most comprehensive tasting for this variety and region in the UK. Nine leading winemakers (from a region that is home to 80 wineries in total) will be showcasing both their Koshu and international varieties – showing the diversity that this region produces and introducing the new 2019 vintage to the UK. These are:
Will there be any masterclasses?
We will have an expert-led masterclass running on the day, hosted by wine writers Anthony Rose and Neil Beckett. This will explore both single vineyard Koshu and premium wines from the region made from international grape varieties with the chance to taste 13 different wines as an introduction to the region.
You have been running events in the UK for some years now, what changes have you noticed amongst UK buyers about their perception and knowledge of Koshu wines?
Yes, this is actually the 10th year for Koshu of Japan (KOJ) promoting in the UK, holding our annual trade tasting and food matching events in restaurants since we started in 2010. We are seeing a lot more awareness and interest in Japanese produce overall in the UK, with the continued success of Japanese food chains on the high street and the real media interest in Japanese culture, helped, in part, by Japan hosting this year’s Olympics.
Within the wine trade, the interest and knowledge of Koshu has similarly been increasing year on year. Following previous tastings, we have had several top restaurants interested in listing Koshu wines for their tasting menus and wine lists and so awareness is growing
We are pleased with the steady growth that Koshu wines have seen in the market and this year we are expanding the campaign to reach consumers directly as well, working with Vagabond wine bars to offer a barrel-top tasting and an evening tasting event in February. The wines will also be available in the signature enomatic machines at the Canary Wharf and Paddington branches throughout February.
Why do you think Koshu wines are suitable for the UK market?
The UK is always the most important market for Koshu of Japan because it has a strong influence in the world markets, especially in the Asian markets. In terms of suitability for Koshu, the UK market has long been more amenable to trying wines from around the world as historically we haven’t had an indigenous industry to fill our glasses!
This open-mindedness has translated through the years into a more adventurous wine-buying market, with buyers and importers who can be persuaded to try something new. Wines from Japan certainly tick all the right boxes for wine drinkers looking for a new experience! That said, UK consumers are also creatures of habit and like to have some familiarity with what they are drinking. Koshu wines don’t disappoint in this respect either, including many recognisable, international varieties and an approachable, light drinking style, that suits the UK profile for the Koshu varietal wines.
This lighter, fresher style not only pairs well with a variety of cuisines (especially seafood) but also fits in perfectly with the general shift in tastes and lifestyles in the UK as people seek out lighter drinks. Lastly, the restaurant scene in the UK is fantastically varied, as Koshu wines are such excellent partners to food this has only helped encourage sales and consumers’ discovery of Koshu.
What advice would you give to buyers and restaurants about listing Koshu wines for their customers?
Be adventurous with your listings, but don’t expect your customer to be at first! Offer Koshu by the glass to get people accustomed to the style and grow interest from there. Suggesting food pairings is an excellent way to get customers to push the boat out and opt for a wine that they might not usually consider.
Can you give us some good food pairings for Koshu?
While Koshu has a natural affinity with seafood and Asian dishes, it is a light, food-friendly wine that can be paired with a large number of dishes and cuisines. It’s currently featured on the wine flight for Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, showing its excellent versatility. At the tasting on February 5 at 67 Pall Mall (10am – 4.30pm) there will be the chance to sample wines from our nine producers alongside a selection of seafood canapés, including fresh oysters, smoked haddock croquettes and Yellowfin tuna tartare.
- If you would like to find out more information about the Koshu of Japan tasting on February 5 at 67 Pall Mall then click and register here.