Toshihiro Ike is the winegrower behind Nagomi Vineyards. He moved to Tomi City a decade ago after working as an ATT network engineer. He says that technology develops so rapidly that things become obsolete fast. He decided he wanted to work with products with more of a lifespan, and which can be transmitted across generations.
One answer was agriculture, and after some exploration, he decided on wine. So he needed to find out where he could do it. He came to Tomi City, and when he visited, there was just one winery: Villa d’Est.
Why did he initially choose Tomi City? He’d tried Kyoho – a table grape – from here, and it tasted really good! He thought there was potential for lots of wineries to open here, so he moved to Tomi in 2010.
It can be quite tricky growing wine grapes in Nagano, so he started with Kyoho. But then a farmer offered to let him borrow some land to grow wine grapes, which he jumped at. Initially he planted Sauvignon Blanc, in 2012. The following year he attended a series of seminars organized by Nagano Prefecture on winegrowing. And he planted other varietie, including Pinor Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.
Currently Toshihiro has 2.5 hectares of vines, including one parcel of the table grapes Nagano Purple and Shine Muscat. He also buys in table grapes from time to time, using them to make a field-blend-style Pet Nat.
Current harvest is around 4 tons a year, and production is 6000 bottles. All ferments are wild yeast.
Nagomi Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Nagano, Japan
Wild ferment. Zesty, lively and bright with some nice textural elements. Has an appealing acid line with some lemony notes. Midweight with a light mid-palate and a fresh, herb-tinged finish. 88/100
Nagomi Vineyards Chardonnay Oak 2018 Nagano, Japan
This is fresh with a nice citrus core and quite well integrated nut and vanilla notes from the oak. Fresh with nice acidity, showing purity. Give this another year for the oak to integrate fully and I reckon it will be really nice. 89/100
Nagomi Vineyards Pinot Noir MC 2018 Nagano, Japan
This was a tricky vintage so the grapes weren’t in great condition. They have the whole clusters 10 days of maceration carbonic and then they foot trod it, and a few days later pressed. The wine is light in colour and a bit faded. It has a stern, savoury edge to the cherry fruit with some dry tannins and hints of earth. Aiming at elegance, but the dryness and savoriness get in the way a bit. 86/100
Nagomi Vineyards Pinot Noir 2019 Nagano, Japan
Pale cherry red in colour. This year he destemmed one cuvée, as well as using some maceration carbonic. This is bright and quite pretty with light red cherry fruit, some subtle herbal hints and some silkiness to the red fruits on the mid-palate. Has some subtle herbal hints. A really elegant, expressive style. 90/100
Nagomi Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé No Added Sulfites 2019 Nagano, Japan
Full red/pink colour, somewhere between a light red wine and a typical rosé. Pressed after 12 days of carbonic maceration. Supple, juicy and lively with red cherry and cranberry, as well as pear and apple. Has some savoury notes, too, as well as some herbal hints. Finishes dry. 88/100
Nagomi Vineyards Labrusca Frizzante Pet Nat 2019 Nagano, Japan
10.5% alcohol. Whole cluster maceration for two weeks before pressing. Disgorged. Dry, fruity and also a bit savoury. Bright with high acidity, showing raspberry and strawberry fruit Has a buscuitty, savoury twist on the finish. A little muted. 86/100
Nagomi Vineyards Labrusca Frizzante No Added Sulphites Pet Nat 2019 Nagano, Japan
Lively, vivid and showing bright acidity. There’s some biscuitty savouriness here. The palate is dry and tart, but also has some sweet stewed strawberry character. Has some richness and a nice sweetly fruited finish. 88/100