As might be suspected, we at drinkingjapan.org evaluate a large number of wines in any given year, ranging from international varieties to the indigenous. It’s a tough job, of course, but someone has to provide this social service, so we have agreed to meet the challenge. We have been diligent, but in one instance, we have been remiss. Until recently, we have ignored the presence of the Queen—the Black Queen—despite the fact that we are domiciled in the land of her birth.
The Black Queen is one of those many grape varieties created by Zenbei Kawakami (1868-1944), the same man who gave us Muscat Bailey A. Black Queen is what is known as a “complex hybrid.” Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours (Robinson et al.) describes its lineage as follows: “Black Queen is therefore a Vitis vinifera, Vitus labrusca and Vitus lincecumii hybrid.” The same source mentions that in 2009 there were 469 ha of it planted in Japan. From what we tasted, we can say that we wish there were more!
Black Queen is a “black” grape, of course. We will risk being pedantic here and point out the fact that what we call “black” is not truly black. Kassia St. Clair, the author of The Secret Lives of Colour, says “With black, things are always complicated.” And indeed, they are. Real black would reflect no light. The closest thing to this at the moment is Vantablack. Interested readers are directed to this short video for the full Vantablack experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fg2x0L4YAuU .
The wine we tasted was Alps Wine’s Musée du Vin BLACKQUEEN 2018. Alps is a Nagano Prefecture winery. We pegged the color at medium ruby, the acidity at medium (+), and the sweetness was to some of us medium and to others medium (+). The bouquet had both vegetal and citrus notes (grapefruit). Blackcurrants predominate on the palate. This is a medium body, medium (+) intensity wine with 12% abv.
The queen, be she black or white, is the most powerful piece in chess. This is because she has the greatest range of movement. We believe that the Black Queen varietal, like the game piece, has the potential for a wide range of movement. We intend to sample more of this varietal in other manifestations; e.g., oaked, blended….
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.
#drinkingjapan #drinkjapan #japanesewine #blackqueen #museeduvin #naganowine #alpswine