It is the season of samples - a time when odd and interesting new labels appear and old, oft-rejected old labels think they can sneak in again without being noticed. It is a time when unspeakable damage is done on one's palate, because samples tend to be what need to be sold, rather than what I want to drink.
That makes the exceptions all the better, especially when they come out of left field. Or, in this case, the Far East. Which I suppose would be right field if I were looking at a map of Great Britain. In any case, I'd heard of these wines, but never tasted them.
The Koshu grape is indigenous to Japan, which is kind of exciting in a way that only wine geeks can appreciate. Grace is meant to be one of the top producers, and the examples we enjoyed, I believe it.
Grace Koshu Kayagatake 2009
Quite pale. Almost clear.
Perfumed and bright on the nose with lemon peel and pith. There also a soft, tropical note on the end.
Really rather pretty on the palate. Bright, lemony acidity with tropical, perfumed edges. Textured and balanced with great length - wet stone and a touch of fresh spring rain. Yep, I just wrote that. Damn, that's tasty - good village Chablis tasty (without the cheese and grist). And refreshingly different. Groovy.
Grace Koshu Hishiyama 2009
Again, very pale. Silver highlights.
Fleshier on the nose; richer with lemons and kiwis.
A lighter touch - more ephemeral and elegant. The acidity isn't quite as bracing. The mouthfeel is extraordinary. It's gripping, but softly so. Grapefruit, lemons, mirabelle nuances. Kumquat? Long and fine on the finish. Really rather impressed with these.
Tasted 1 Feb 2011 at Luvians Bottleshop