Marks & Spencer to sell Japanese wine

Marks & Spencer is to become Europe’s first supermarket to list a Japanese wine made from the country’s native Koshu grape.

Kurambon Koshu

The Kurambon Koshu which will hit M&S shelves in May

The wine will go into stores and onto the retailer’s website in late May this year with a price of £12.99, and comes from the Kurambon Winery in Japan’s Yamanashi wine region.

Marks & Spencer wine buyer Emma Dawson decided to list a Koshu having been impressed by the quality and distinctiveness of the wines made with Japan’s native grape following a visit to Yamanashi, which is situated at the foot of Mount Fuji.

“Visiting the region really impressed on me the specialness of the Koshu wines… and the extreme care they take in cultivating it [the grape] to help adapt it to their conditions,” she said.

The wine is called Sol Lucet and Dawson said she decided to work with Kurambon because its Koshu “really displays the grape variety well, with a light sur lie touch that is often used by producers in the region.”

She also described the wine, which has an 11.5% abv, as having “dazzling Yuzu lemongrass flavours which match well with sushi and Japanese food.”

Having said that, she noted that M&S aren’t planning to merchandise the wine alongside the grocer’s sushi display.

Nevertheless, Dawson, who was instrumental in the creation of the retailer’s Eastern Mediterranean wine range, said that she was “shaping our wines to match with our food”.

As reported by db back in May 2012, M&S has created a range of 15 labels including wines from Croatia, Slovenia, Israel, Lebannon, Greece and Turkey inspired by a surge of interest in cuisine from these regions.

Speaking to db at yesterday’s Koshu tasting in London, Kurambon owner and winemaker Takahiko Nozawa said that the first order of 1,800 bottles from the 2013 vintage which is destined for M&S was “ready for shipment”.

Kurambon make on average 90,000 bottles each year and have created a special blend for M&S, as well as a unique label and a clear glass bottle in contrast to the producer’s standard green glass package.

The wine will be closed under screwcap, in keeping with the rest of Kurambon’s range.

Koshu wines tend to be delicate, light in body and unoaked. They have a fresh citrus tang and naturally low alcohol levels of between 11 and 12%.

Nozawa said that the UK was his only export market and that he has worked with importer Enotria for the past three years.

However, he said that he was about to start exporting his wines to Canada and Taiwan.

As for the domestic market, he said that sales of Koshu in Japan were “booming”.

To read more about Koshu click here.

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