English winery to employ team in Japan

Hampshire winery Black Chalk has secured distribution in the Japanese market for the first time and hopes to employ a dedicated team based in Tokyo.

The move has been spearheaded by Black Chalk backer and director Kenya Matsumoto, who owns Mayfair Japanese restaurants Cubé and Roketsu.

Matsumoto’s agency, Frontive Holding, will be responsible for the distribution of Black Chalk’s wine in Japan. It also intends to target other key markets in Asia, for example China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

Black Chalk is to invest “significantly” in the Japanese market, having already gained listings in Michelin-starred restaurants in the country including: Kikunoi and Gion Kawakami in Kyoto, Sushi Sho in Tokyo and Nakashima in Hiroshima. It is also listed in luxury department stores Mitsukoshi-Isetan and Hankyu.

Frontive will also distribute Black Chalk’s wines directly to consumers via an online channel. The first shipment of Black Chalk, which includes the 2015 classic cuvée and 2017 rosé, will hit Japanese shores this month in time for the autumn trade fairs in Tokyo and Osaka.

Winemaker and CEO of Black Chalk, Jacob Leadley, commented: “We have prioritised Japan as our target export market from the outset. There is such a strong synergy between English sparkling wine and Japanese cuisine, and Japan is a market where quality, boutique brands are very highly valued.

“After the last few months when, like others in the English wine industry, we were impacted by lockdown. This has been a really positive move for us and underlines how important export markets will be, moving forward.”

The Black Chalk Classic will carry a recommended retail price of ¥5,800, while the Wild Rose will be priced at ¥6,300.

In September last year, Black Chalk secured a £1.5 million investment for a new winery and tasting room. The facility is now nearing completion and will be ready for the 2020 harvest.

Earlier this year, the brand announced that it had leased its first vineyards in the Test Valley planted with Pinot Noir, Meunier, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Précoce.

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