In Nagano, Japan: a big tasting at Tomi Wine Chapel

I was back at the fabulous Tomi Wine Chapel in Nagano, for a wine tasting. This is a very cool wine bar, offering a wide range of wines, and I had a tasting here last year here.

This time I had a more extensive tasting of wines from Nagano made at various custom crush facilities. These are from people who have vineyards, but who aren’t ready or don’t want to invest in their own wineries. These sorts of projects have become an important part of the wine landscape here.

Présentir Tokimeite Chardonnay 2018 Nagano, Japan
Made at Arc en Vigne. Lively and fruity with a slight lift to the citrus and pear fruit, and some sweet, zippy acidity on the palate. Has some nutty notes. Fruit driven with a lively, spicy finish. Just a hint of volatility here, but it gets away with it. 87/100

Bonjourfarm A. et Y. Kurakake Netsu Aligoté 2018 Nagano, Japan
12% alcohol. The only varietal Aligoté in Japan, and just 186 bottles made. This is concentrated and linear with a stony edge to the lemony fruit, and notes of herbs, mint and green tea. It’s a bit waxy with a lovely complex Aligoté character, finishing with notes of green herbs. Distinctive and delicious. 90/100

Bonjourfarm Les Crus Brut NV Nagano, Japan
63% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir, 8% Aligote, and 4% others. Barrel fermented, then secondary fermentation for a year. Dosage 6 g/l, 1000 bottles. Notes of vanilla, wax and herbs on the nose. There’s a toasty, creamy edge to the palate, and this has admirable purity and a very smooth mouthfeel. The oak is a little too evident, perhaps, but there’s a lot to like about this wine. 89/100

Rue de Vin Hideaki Koyama Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Nagano, Japan
Lovely grassy aromatics on the nose, with some appealing citrus fruit. The palate is bright, green and grassy with bright citrus notes as well as some passionfruit and elderflower prettiness. Lovely fruit intensity, finishing with some dill and pickle notes. 88/100

Cave Hatano Kurakake Chardonnay 2018 Nagano, Japan
This one isn’t custom crush. 760-790 m altitude. 18-20 year old vines, aged in stainless steel on lees for 11 months. This is fresh, supple and fruit-driven with nice bright citrus and pear fruit, with some green apple notes. It has a nice lemony drive with some brightness to the fruit. 89/100

Vino Della Gatta Sakaki Nekojyarashi 2019 Nagano, Japan
12% alcohol. Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp, pure and fruity with lovely zesty citrus fruit. It’s very transparent and bright showing lovely freshness. Subtle citrus and pear fruit to the fore, with a slight salinity. 88/100

Château des Chevrettes Chardonnay Enfant 2018 Nagano, Japan
Stainless steel ferment, 630 bottles. Made at Arc en Vigne. Wild ferment. There’s a touch of volatility here adding a sweetness to the palate. This shows pear and apple fruit with some nuts and spice. Distinctive, and quite natural tasting. 85/100

Château des Chevrettes Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Nagano, Japan
Stony and bright with some herbs and spice as well as pithy citrus fruit. Quite stony with a mineral edge to the fruit. Compact and fruit-driven. 87/100

Carraria Fujisawa Tateshina Chardonnay Opportunity 2018 Nagano, Japan
680 m altitude, from vines planted in 2013. Made at Arc en Vigne. Attractive, bright and with a taut citrus fruit core, showing a stony, mineral edge. This is compact and a little backward, with potential to develop. 90/100

Carraria Fujisawa Tateshina Chardonnay Familia 2018 Nagano, Japan
Creamy, dairy, slightly nutty nose. The palate has attractive bright citrus fruit, with a distinctive creamy, buttery undercurrent that dominates slightly on the finish. Too dairy for me. 85/100

Présentir Hohosomete Pinot Noir 2018 Nagano, Japan
Made at Arc et Vigne. A slight lift on the nose. Shows elegant, light red cherry fruit with a savoury, spicy edge and notes of undergrowth. Finishes fresh and savoury. This is a tiny bit volatile, but it works. 88/100

Aperture Farm Sola 2018 Nagano, Japan
12% alcohol. Picture of bark on the bottle. Varietal Merlot. Natural winemaking, but with new oak, made for ageing. This is sweetly fruited and has a spicy, savoury edge. There’s a lovely richness to the fruit, with cherries and raspberries, and the new oak integrates well, adding a little vanilla sweetness. A striking wine that I really like, even though it has a few edges. 91/100

Vart Merlot 2018 Nagano, Japan
750-800 m, custom crushed at Cave Hatano. This has a green sappy edge to the bright berry fruits. It’s quite Loire-like with good tannins and acid sitting under the green-tinged berry fruits. Drinking nicely with vibrant fruit. Grippy finish. 87/100

Vart Merlot Oaked 2018 Nagano, Japan
Sweet berry fruits here with some cherry brightness and just a hint of green. Has a rounded mid-palate, with a sappy, grippy finish. Quite stony and mineral. Appealing. 88/100

Higashiyama Vineyard Presence Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Nagano, Japan
11.5% alcohol. It’s a fresh, supple, elegant style of Cabernet Sauvignon, showing bright raspberry and blackcurrant fruit. Fresh and nicely structured with some brightness. Has good balance. This is pretty lean, but it’s delicious. 91/100

Water Valley Maruko Yodagawa Merlot 2017 Nagano, Japan
450 m elevation. Made at Villa d’Est. The farmer’s father painted the label picture. There’s a savoury, grippy edge to the fruit, with some green notes, as well as bright cherry and plum fruit. Berryish and quite bright, with compact fruit and good balance. Pure and appealing. 88/100

Château des Chevrettes Tateshina Rouge Garçon 2018 Nagano, Japan
12% alcohol. Made at Arc en Vigne. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, aged in oak. Very stylish aromatic nose showing a chalky, gravelly edge to the berry and blackcurrant fruit. Lovely harmony and balance on the palate with good structure under the balanced fruit. So drinkable and has the potential to develop. Lots to like here. 92/100

Il Fait Beau Saras Soleil Merlot 2018 Nagano, Japan
Five year old ungrafted vines. They use three kinds of oak chips, apparently. There’s a subtle woody, bacon edge to the bright, fresh red cherry and raspberry fruit. This slight distraction aside, the fruit is really nice with a bright red fruits core and subtle stony minerality. Very drinkable. 89/100

Northern Alps Vineyards Waltz 2018 Nagano, Japan
An equal blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot aged in oak for 8 months. It’s a bit volatile, with a lift on the nose and sweet acid on the palate. Behind this, there’s nice sweet cherry and plum fruit. If only it was a little less volatile, it would be really nice. Still quite drinkable though. 85/100

Boono Farm Passion Barrel Aging 2017 Nagano, Japan
There’s quite a bit of oak here from 15 months in barrel, but it’s good oak and the fruit is really nice. Shows cherry and berry fruit with some vanilla and cedar framing. Nice structure and acidity. Built for the long-haul and well made, if a little oaky at the moment. 90/100

Votano Wine Cabernet Franc Seba-K4 2015 Nagano, Japan
This is showing some development, but it is also drinking very well. Has a bit of lift on the nose, with berries, herbs and spices. The palate is mellow and savoury with some spice and herbs as well as a touch of earth and damson, as well as some smooth cherry fruit. Drinking well, but don’t hold. 89/100

Find these wines with

Nakadanaso and Gio Hills Winery
496 Winery, Cyclo Vineyard
A big Nagano wine tasting at Tomi Wine Chapel