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The Drops of God’s authors on their passion for Japanese wine

dbHK recently met The Drops of God authors, siblings Shin Kibayashi and Yuko Kibayashi, to discuss their love of Japanese wine and the launch of their next work which will reveal their 12 favourite ones.

Without any doubt, Japanese wine has become something of a ‘thing’ in the wake of Japanese whisky and sake’s on-going rise with native varieties, such as Muscat Bailey A and Koshu, are getting more popular around the world.

“We have witnessed the evolution of the industry in this decade. It’s exciting to see the number of Japanese wineries grew from 200-something to 300 and more, in which these wineries are operated by young winemakers.

“Many of them might have been previously working in unrelated jobs, and they decided to turn to wine purely because of passion. Their creations tend to be rather creative. Also, we Japanese love to do things seriously and so many workers from this industry have mastered meticulous skills.” Yuko Kibayashi said.

“It is not only the winemaking style that has improved, we also see improvement in viticulture. For example, Muscat Bailey A has never been this good. Winemakers nowadays know how to convey its appealing character.” Shin added. In fact, the grape is now one of the most widely planted in Japan as it’s easy to grow and its late budding can help avoid spring frosts.

For years, the siblings have been invited to be wine judges at various Japanese competitions. After tasting countless home-grown samples, Yuko reckons Japanese wine is “elegant and aromatic, with the convenience of being early drinking and it is not as weighty as most Old World wines.”

Shin pays much attention on the local terroir. He thinks Japanese wineries are generally boutique mainly due to the climate, which is prone to high humidity and frequent typhoons. However, although the Japanese climate is not completely ideal, he believes the humidity could have played a role in bringing out the uniqueness of the terroir, especially as it favours the growth of microbacteria in the soil.

In their latest publication ‘Marriage ~ The Drops of God Final Arc’, they put a lot of focus on wine and food pairing as this is one of their recent pursuits.

Talking about the food pairing potential of Japanese wine, they are intrigued by its versatility as it is generally light and therefore pairs easily with many cuisines.

“Our favourite indigenous Japanese variety is Koshu,” said Yuko. “The fragrance of the wine can work well with many cuisines, especially fish dishes like sushi and sashimi.”

While the food pairing potential of Muscat Bailey A is also fascinating, and it makes a particularly special combo with spices. Yuko added.

“For Cantonese food, Muscat Bailey A can marry perfectly, with condiments comprising spring onion and ginger. My personal favourite is to enjoy it with chili. Russian cuisine could be nice as well, one time I tried it with borshcht, and the grassiness of beetroot became gentle when paired with the wine.”

Noticing the natural wine trend is taking hold in Japan, they have also recognised some of the country’s natural wineries. “It is still a niche at the moment but we have come across few. One of them that we like is in Hokkaido, but I can’t reveal it now,” Shin said with a grin.

The reason for being confidential is because next month they are launching the new “Twelve Apostles”, consisting of their 12 favourite Japanese wines. “The natural winery I’ve just mentioned is on the list, stay tuned!”

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