Back before the coronavirus became a thing, I had stumbled upon Fukagawa Winery (深川ワイナリー） after having dinner with coworkers at Uosan Sakaba (魚三酒場) near Monzen-nakacho Station. Not to digress, but Uosan Sakaba is a legendary seafood izakaya (居酒屋）serving large-portions of fresh fish at rock-bottom prices. The waitresses are sometimes a little rude and the facilities (i.e., bathrooms) leave a lot to be desired, but the quality of the fish more than makes up for such shortcomings. More on Uosan Sakaba in a future post. When I literally stumbled upon Fukagawa Winery, I had thought that I had found the first urban winery in Tokyo. I hadn’t. Tokyo Winery, which is a short 10-minute walk from Oizumi-gakuen Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line, is in fact the first winery in Tokyo. It was founded in 2014, predating Fukagawa Winery by about two years.
The winery consists of a small room used to make wine and a tiny shop. The room where they make wine can be viewed from behind glass. When I entered the shop in the early afternoon to taste wine, I was the only customer. However, during my stay several customers came in to buy wine to consume at home. I sat down and decided to order a 3-wine sample set costing 1,400 Japanese yen (100 yen cheaper than ordering 3 separate glasses).
From the 7 different types of wine that were available, I chose the (8) Takao Rose and the (5) Muscat Bailey A. I asked the shop clerk to recommend a third wine, and she proposed that I try the (3) Niagara. The menu above says that all of the wine is produced 100% from grapes (as opposed to juice) and that their wine is nama (生). By nama, the winery explains that the wine is non-filtered and non-heat treated. The explanation further states that the wine is bottled with live yeast.
As for the three wines I tasted, here are my tasting notes:
- Takao Rose – Although called a rose, the color was quite dark. Perhaps a cherry red. The flavor was surprisingly dry with some bitterness and some tannins. Takao grapes are black or dark purple and related to the Kyoho variety. The Tokyo Agricultural Experiment Station released Takao in 1971 and its cultivation peaked in 1988 (Yamada & Sato, 2016).
- Muscat Bailey A – Unlike previous wines that I have tried made from this grape, it had a slightly musty and mushroomy aroma. The flavor was that of strawberries.
- Niagara – The wine made from Niagara grapes was sweet, but not overly so. It had strong floral aromas. Compared with the other wines, this was the easiest to drink.
Yamada, M. & Sato, A. (2016) “Advances in table grape breeding in Japan.” Breeding Science. 2016 Volume 66 Issue 1 Pages 34-45. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jsbbs/66/1/66_34/_html/-char/en
Recommendation level (out of five stars):
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