Yama budo (mountain grape) belongs to neither the Vitis vinifera nor Vitis labrusca family of grapes, and for that reason alone, it deserves a chance to present its case in the court of curious wine drinkers. The case it will make, in most circumstances, is likely to convince all but the hardcore vinifera crowd that there is something here worth pursuing.
The family to which yama budo belongs is Vitis coignetiae, and, if that is a mouthful, try saying it with a mouthful of wine: it gets even worse. It was named after a French couple, whose name was Coignet. The berry is red and high in acidity. The taste is often described as “austere” or “leafy,” and even in Japan the wine made therefrom is sometimes a little difficult to find. Overseas, with the exception of Korea, it may be extremely difficult to obtain.
The wine we tasted had a vegetative nose, specifically cabbage, which is in harmony with the orthodox “leafy” assessment for this wine. One taster remarked that he smelt prunes, as well. The alcohol was almost imperceptible at 9.5%. What surprised us was the initial perception of an exceedingly pleasant sweetness followed by a mouthwatering acidity. The former is atypical of a Yamabudo wine. The mystery was solved when one of us checked the back label and discovered that grape juice had been added. At this point, some of you may be gasping at what might be perceived as a serious breach of winemaking protocol. If so, compose yourself, as this kind of enrichment is permitted in quite a few winemaking regions. Interested readers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the ominous-sounding RCGM (Rectified Concentrated Grape Must) and what the Germans call “Süssreserve.”
Recommendation level (out of five stars):
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