February 5, 2018
by Hiroaki Kawakami & Yurie Natsume
Now, there are four major wine production regions in Japan. These are Yamanashi, Nagano, Hokkaido, and Yamagata. Especially, Yamanashi prefecture is known for its excellent wine, so there are a lot of wineries in the prefecture. However, one winery which is different from the four major production areas is in the spotlight now. It’s Tamba winery in Kyoto prefecture. Tamba winery is located in Kyoutamba district, and it is the only winery in Kyoto. Now, we will show about the history and attraction of Tamba wine.
History of Tamba Wine
Tamba winery was established in 1979. Its founder, Tetsuo Kuroi, went to Europe and was impressed by French wine there. Therefore, he decided he wanted to produce wines in Japan. His ideal was that the wines should agree with Japanese food, so he rented a sake brewery in Kyoto and started to produce his ideal wines there. In 1981, he sold his first wine produced in the Tamba winery. The reputation of Tamba wine was established almost immediately, and only two years later in 1983, Tamba winery won the gold prize of Monde Selection, a prestigious wine contest. After that, he gradually increased the number of cultivars and descriptions of wine. In 1984, the Tamba winery started to sell new brews, called nouveau in France. Now more than 40 species of grapes are grown as tests in the Tamba winery. When they can cultivate better varieties, they can produce wine with the grape as authentic products.
What Makes Tamba Wine Special?
Tamba wine is different from other Japanese wine and overseas wine in its aromas and in its feelings it produces on the tongue. These differences are attributable to its production methods. Most of wine makers in the world ferment the intact juice of grapes, but Tamba winery first clarifies the juices of grapes before the process of fermentation, especially for its white wine. This method makes the wine smoother and fresher than other normal white wines. In regards to its aromas, the location of Tamba winery is deeply related with a unique scent. Actually the land of Tamba winery was originally a sake brewery, so the founder started producing wines with the exaxt same facilities and equipment that the sake brewers used. So the brewing machines still contain traces of the flavors of rice-malt, giving Tamba wine sublte aromas resembling those of Japanese sake. Hereby, they can produce the wine that is suitable for Japanese foods. Based on these factors, it can be said that Tamba wine is a perfect fit for the cultural climate and preference of Japanese people.
Now we are going to introduce two products of the Tamba winery.
Tamba Toriino Pinot Blac Sur Lie
The first product is white wine by the name of Tamba Toriino Pinot Blanc Sur Lie. This is made from the white grape called Pino Blanc. The color is clear yellow with a greenish tinge. In terms of aromas, it doesn’t just contain a roasted flavor derived from casks of oak, but also traces of rice-malt, honey, and apple. The taste is so rich, resulting from maturing in oak casks, and the sharpness of its sour taste is attributable to features of Pino Blanc and the climate of the Tamba district. However, the sour flavor is definitely not harsh. White wines made in Bourgogne of northeastern Frence sometimes contain too much sour taste, derived from abundant mineral compositions like Chablis. On the other hand, we can feel the comfortable and refined sour flavor in Pinot Blanc of Tamba Toriino.
Tamba Toriino Pinot Noir
The second wine is a red wine by the name of Tamba Toriino Pinot Noir. This is made from Pinot Noir, which is one of the most famous black grapes in the world. Furthermore, Pinot Noir is very famous as the grape which is considered difficult to cultivate. The color is like a deep ruby with a garnet edge. In terms of aromas, it contains various scents like watery soil, sweetly scented herbs, cedar, and black tea. The attack of taste is so soft and velvety, but tannins contained in the wine are rather strong. The aftertaste is as long as those of the wines made in New World, including America, Chile and Argentina. The global impression of this wine is that the Pinot Noir of Tamba Toriino is closer to New World’s wine. However, Tamba wine is milder than wine from the New World - which is fruity - so Tamba wine is suitable for Japanese dishes.
Today, the sales of retailing of wine targeted at individuals is increasing year by year in Japan. This data shows that Japanese people often drink wine with Western dishes, but few people often pair it with Japanese dishes. Most Japanese people might think that Japanese dishes are not suitable to pair with wine. However, this thinking is wrong. Features of wine can be changed by the climate, the soil and the maker, so we must make an ideal wine that can be suitable for Japanese food. The wine from Tamba winery proves that this can be done. We believe that Tamba wine gives Japanese wine a big hope. We hope you try these wines of Tamba so that you can know new horizon regarding Japanese wine.