Wine made from Koshu grapes has a subtlety that is unmistakably Japanese. Elegant, crisp and aromatic, it has light citrus aromas of yuzu (Japanese lime), jasmine and white peach, and minerally flavours that in the finest examples reveal lychee and dried fruits such as apricot and pineapple. Its polished aftertaste has an umami shared with Japanese sake and it is one of the few wines in the world - along with Chablis, for example - that pairs with Japanese cuisine such as sushi and tempura.
Like an abstract zen ink painting, Koshu is as appealing in its subtlety as it is alluring in its depths. Great reward comes from fine-tuning your senses to appreciate its complexities - one could say that exploring the depths of Koshu is the wine-drinking equivalent of meditation.
In 2010 the Koshu grape variety was registered with the OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine), allowing 'Koshu' to be labeled as a grape variety in the European market.
Yamanashi Prefecture, in which the Koshu Valley resides, is the only area of Japan recognised as a GI (Geographical Indication) for grape growing and production, a designation applied by the Japanese government in 2013.
When it comes to red wine, the signature local grape is the hybrid Muscat Bailey A, the only other Japanese grape recognised by the OIV. Wines made from Muscat Bailey A are light, dry reds with a highly fragrant candy-like aroma. To a lesser extent, the region’s winemakers also produce whites and reds from international varieties such as Chardonnay and Merlot, as well as from more obscure types of Japanese grapes.