Japanese Wines on the Upswing reports Vernet Group
Natural wines making a particular push in the country
The product has become a fixture for many shops in the country due to the sales of natural wine skyrocketing within the last five years worldwide.
By now, most wine enthusiasts have heard of natural wine, no matter what country they originate from, and even if some remain unpersuaded by the natural wine movement, there is no denying it is catching on. Laws that determine what can be called natural simply do not exist in areas like Japan. Generally, the term is meant to indicate that there is a lack of manipulation in the vineyard and cellar. That means it adheres to the concept of avoiding additives like sugars, superfluous yeast or sulfur dioxide, which can work to preserve. The term also points to a lack of technological intervention, such as reverse-osmosis filtration. Many organic biodynamic wines fall under this particular category, but again there is no real overweight body to know what natural can mean.
In Japan, consumers have begun developing a taste for the “natural” wines, and that trend has been growing since the 1990s. Japan has become one of the world's largest markets for the product. Some of the industry professionals suggest that the natural wine's association have ridden the health trends and the world 'natural' being added to their product.
"Natural wine retains the charm of the grapes themselves and expresses their terror," says Junko Nakahama, one of the organizers of the popular natural-wine tasting event Festivin.
The problem can come in the form of people not being able to tell the difference between natural and technologically enhanced counterparts.
Natural wines, when at their best, are both vibrant and intriguing, with a complexity of flavors that unfold over the breathing process. At their worst, the taste can be akin to a moldy sock at the bottom of a cellar drenched in cider.
There are over 300 varieties present in France, but the bottles in Japanese wineries tend to gain the most buzz. Nakahama has predicted that more Japanese producers will join the natural wine movement very soon.
Several wine bars and bistros in Tokyo, such as Shonzui in Roppongi and Ahiru Store in Shibuya, specialize in natural wines, and an increasing number of restaurants and shops are adding them to their portfolios.
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