Gastronomer Lifestyle_One Bottle at a Time_Japanese Issue

One Bottle at a Time: The Japanese Issue

Written by Guillaume Celante with Vincent Verduron

August issue ‘Japanese’, 2023 

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Guillaume Celante: August is all about Japan, and Japan is not just famed for its incredible culinary landscape… They’re shaking up the wine scene, too—big time!

Japanese people are totally falling head over heels for fine wine. It’s like a love story that gets better with each year and one that’s not stopping anytime soon. Thanks to their steadfast love for Western culture, wine has become a pretty big deal over there in the Land of the Rising Sun. After China, Japan is the largest market for wine in Asia. Japanese consumers have an appreciation for a wide variety of wines and consider drinking to be a part of everyday life rather than a luxury for special occasions. This has led to an increased demand for imports, particularly from countries like France, Italy, and the US. 

But Japan isn’t just a major consumer of wine; they’re making their own as well and certainly not messing around with it! Japanese producers are constantly experimenting and refining the winemaking process, coming up with unique flavours and styles. One also can’t speak of Japanese wine without mentioning sake, Japan’s traditional rice wine. This unique beverage holds a special place in Japan’s culinary and cultural traditions. Sake offers a distinct flavour profile that sets it apart from grape wines. Its popularity has now spread far beyond Japan’s borders and is enjoyed all around the world.

I begin my recommendations this month with a sake and follow that up with a French wine that pairs well with Japanese cuisine. Then, I hand it over to my guest, Vincent Verduron, a representative of the great wines of Bordeaux for Asia.

Tatsuriki Akitsu Junmai Daiginjo Sake
Yamadanishiki rice

Tatsuriki sake is a product of the historic Honda Shoten brewery, established in 1921 in Hyogo, a prefecture renowned for making high-quality sake. What sets Tatsuriki apart is the focus on the quality of rice, specifically the famed Yamada Nishiki variety, also known as the “king of sake rice”. Grown in dedicated fields in Hyogo where soil quality and terroir are heavily monitored, this exceptional rice brings an incredible depth and complexity to Tatsuriki’s sake.

The Tatsuriki Akitsu Junmai Daiginjo is a true jewel in the sake world. It has a crystal-clear appearance and a delicate bouquet of ripe melon, floral notes, and a hint of sweet rice. On the palate, expect a complex and layered taste, courtesy of the exceptional Yamada Nishiki rice, which contributes a robust body that smoothly balances the fresh fruitiness. I’ve only had the chance to try this sake once and am looking forward to having a few more occasions of it one day. 

Château La Mascaronne 2022
Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Vermentino, Mourvèdre

Château La Mascaronne is a winery located in Provence, France. In 2020, the estate was acquired by Tony Parker and Michel Reybier, the former being the famous NBA player, while the latter owns Cos d’Estournel, a Grand Cru in Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux. Situated on a rare, preserved site of exceptional beauty, this vineyard covers 120 hectares and is planted with a variety of grapes, including Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Vermentino, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvèdre. A certified organic winery, Château La Mascaronne uses sustainable methods and is renowned for producing wines of character and elegance, including some of the highest scored rosés. I have selected this particular label for this issue, not only because it is my favourite rosé, but because I find that it’s very easy to pair with raw seafood. I simply love a chilled glass of Château La Mascaronne with fresh sashimi or sushi.

Gastronomer Lifestyle_Japanese_Wine Recommendation

Vincent Verduron: The wine world is my profession but above all my passion. The following three wines are what I consider to be true gems in terms of quality and price. As a French native, I am presenting a bottle from Bordeaux, one from Vendée, and another from Burgundy, so that readers and winelovers can explore different French wine regions. Additionally, these wines adapt particularly well to new climates, making them ideal for importing. 

Joseph Drouhin Beaune 1er cru Clos des Mouches Blanc 2017

Clos des Mouches Blanc by Joseph Drouhin is an exceptional white wine produced by the Joseph Drouhin estate in Burgundy, France. This wine offers delicate aromas of white flowers, citrus, and exotic fruits, along with a velvety texture on the palate. I particularly appreciate this wine for its freshness and complexity, and find it to be an ideal companion for seafood, fish, and poultry dishes. 

Château Paveil de Luze 2016 Margaux
Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot

The Paveil de Luze Bordeaux is a red wine from one of the oldest properties in the Margaux appellation in Bordeaux, existing since the 17th century. Made from 80 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 per cent Merlot, it is to be noted that Paveil is an elite wine of Crus Bourgeois classification. With its deep ruby colour and aromas of ripe red fruits and spices, this wine offers an exceptional tasting experience. I enjoy this wine for its balanced structure, silky tannins, and long finish. It pairs wonderfully with red meats and aged cheeses. 

Bel Canto – Prieuré La Chaume “IGP Val De Loire – Vendée

La Chaume “Vin de Vendée” is a red wine produced in the Vendée region of France, which is in the south of the Loire Valley, where the terroir is marked by the influence of the ocean. This 100 per cent Merlot has a light ruby colour and aromas of fresh red fruits, cherries, and gentle spices. I appreciate this wine for its freshness, soft tannins, and fruity finish. It pairs perfectly with simple and flavorful dishes, such as charcuterie, poultry, or goat cheeses. It is a light and friendly wine that brings joy to every tasting.

On Taste

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