Exploring Japanese wine (5) a wine-pairing lunch at Chi-Fu, Osaka

Website: https://chi-fu.jp/

This was a remarkable gastronomic experience. Chi-Fu is a Japanese-influenced Chinese restaurant in Osaka serving an amazing multicourse menu, and it has a Michelin star. Because of time, we had a slightly shortened version of the tasting menu with some of the highlights. We were served wines selected by sommelier Kei Tashiro (known widely as ‘Tassie’) who we’d met a few days earlier at one of the after-parties. Fellow diners were Noriko Washitani (of Wassy’s) and Yoshi Takahashi. [This was not part of any official program in the visit: my bill was 24 000 Yen, which is expensive but good value for this level of food and wine.]

The Food

Heartwarming: hot porridge soup, with jasmine rice and garland chrysanthemum. This had a beautiful texture.

Change of seasons: a four-course appetiser. Chicken with shaoshin flavour; carrot spring roll with century egg; jellyfish cucumber pickles; deep fried taro. This was so creative, and served on a wheel-like construction.

Fermentation: a vegetable crepe, soybean paste (right), fermented mushroom sauce (left). This is wrapped up and eaten from the left.

Fragrant: shark fin soup.

Acidity: bok choy, Chinese vinegar sauce with white pepper, steamed kue (a fish).

Roots: venison from Hokkaido, beets, Chinese red vinegar, black garlic sauce, deep-fried burdock.

Tradition and beginning: rice dumpling with Dandan noodle, a signature dish here.

Lusciousness: baked egg tart with truffle

The Wines

De Montille Hokkaido Kerner 2020 Japan
12% alcohol. Delicate, nervy nose with fresh lime and pear. The palate has stony detail and hints of wood spice. Supple with some mineral characters. Slight smoky with lovely fruit expression and hints of aniseed, as well as a subtle jelly note. 93/100

Mongaku Valley Winery Field Blend 2021 Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan
This is mainly Pinot Noir with some Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc, and then smaller amounts of Chardonnay and Pinotage. Lovely pale pink/yellow colour. Supple, fresh and expressive with red cherry and strawberry fruit. Delicate and rounded with some fine spices, as well as a hint of tea. A lovely wine. 94/100

Irenka Pinot Noir 2020 Hokkaido, Japan
12% alcohol. This flirts with volatile acidity, but gets away with it: it’s a wine that needs a little time in the glass to show just how good it is. Lifted spicy, red cherry fruit nose with some pepper notes. Lively sour cherry edge to the fruit: very expressive, spicy and linear with good acidity and a sour cherry twist. Edgy but delicious. Sappy. 94/100

10R Winery Kwin Kerner NV Japan
12.5% alcohol. A late-harvest wine. Lively and spicy with apple, pear and citrus fruit. Precise, with good acidity. Has some sweetness but tastes just off-dry because of the acidity. Fine and spicy. 92/100