Goichi Wine-Hayashi Winery’s Merlot 2017:International but Local

Goichi Wine-Hayashi Winery’s Merlot 2017

The subtitle of this entry sounds like it might be an oxymoron. After all, how can a cosmopolite be a local boy, too? Well, if wine can have legs—and it does…in a glass, of course—it can also have figurative legs that take it, not necessarily as a finished product, around the world in the form of varietals whose sensory appeal crosses borders with the ease of a diplomatic passport holder. We are referring here to the venerable “International Varietals,” examples of which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Like all wine-producing countries, Japan produces these wines, too. The focus of this entry will be on a Merlot from Nagano Prefecture, which borders Yamanashi Prefecture, the vinicultural capital of Japan.

Goichi-Hayashi’s Merlot has a pleasing black-fruit nose, specifically black currants and black cherries. Sweetness and acidity are subtle and balanced. The tannins are noticeable, providing the wine with much structure. There is more than a hint of vanilla on the palate, which is probably due to oak aging. The alcohol is 12%. One person found the wine to be a little generic, good but without a clearly identifiable outstanding quality. The producers claim that they are proud of their wine, and this writer concurs: they should be. We found that it paired well with yakitori.

Japan Wine pairing Iseya
Perfect pairing: Yakitori takeout from Iseya, a Kichijoji landmark

The current COVID-19 crisis may result in a reevaluation of how international trade is conducted. It is not unreasonable to assume that in its aftermath the local may eclipse the global. Should that occur, wine drinkers in Japan will be lucky to have Goichi-Hayashi’s Merlot within reach.

Recommendation level (out of five stars):


We have written a book. For more information on Japanese beverages, please check it out. You can get it at fine offline and online booksellers in Japan, including Amazon.


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