Nagano wine region, Japan (5) – Obusé Winery, Domaine Sogga
This is one of Nagano’s best producers. Domaine Sogga, also known as Obusé Winery, is based in Obusé and is run by Akihiko Soga (just the one ‘g’ in his name, but two in the domaine’s).
Akihiko is clearly talented, and also nicely quirky. The winery is an old Japanese sake brewery that was founded in 1842. His father become interested in making cider: this area is famous for its apples. But it was his grandfather who had leanings towards wine. In the 1970s he planted vineyards with table grapes, and then later on, in 1996, he planted some Merlot in Takayima village.
Akihiko wanted to make wine, and graduated in enology and viticulture from the University of Yamanashi. He then went abroad and did a stage at Long Depaquit before returning to Japan in 1988. Since 2006 he’s been working with organics, and now there are 4 hectares certified organic out of the domaine’s 8 hectares.
Worried about the effects of climate change, Akihiko initially planted lots of different varieties such as sangiovese, petit manseng, kerner, tannat and barbera. Since then he’s given up a few of these and is more focused. He thinks that blends may be the way to go in the future – he doesn’t like adding sugar or acid, and this would be the natural solution, using the different varieties to balance each other out. All the whites are whole-bunch pressed.
These are very clean, well made wines with good density of flavour. The duplicate note are where I tried the wine on separate occasions on the trip.
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Albariño 2017
Very crisp and linear with a lovely stony, mineral edge to the laser-sharp citrus fruit, with some apricot and mandarin richer notes in the background. Lovely precision and keen acidity make this a really fresh wine. Nice purity to this wine. 90/100
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Vigne Sans Chimie Cinq Cépages 2017
Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc, Muscat and Riesling in the mix, although the blend depends on the year. Lovely pure fruit here: grapey and perfumed with nice stony pear and citrus fruit. There’s a slight smoky edge, and a bit of herb, too (mint and thyme). Very nice. 91/100
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Petit Manseng Sec 2016
First release of this was 2011. 2012-14 weren’t dry because of the high sugar levels (28,29 Brix), so this was made as a sweet wine. Herb and green tea edge to the nose. The palate shows wax, straw and nuts with apples, pear and some tea notes, as well as a faint hint of cheese. Really intense and vivid with lively acidity and a long, electric finish. This was harvested at 25 Brix with a TA of 14 g/l, pH 2.9, so malolactic was needed to calm the acidity down and it worked. Lovely stuff. 90/100
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Vins Sans Chimie Cabernet Franc Lieu Dit Murasaki Numéro Trois 2016
13 months in old oak only, whole berry fermentation, wild yeast. There’s a creamy, slightly spicy edge to the sweet berry fruits nose. It’s really polished, supple and textured with some oak showing at the moment alongside the sweet cherry and plum fruit. This is refined, classy and beautifully constructed. Give it a short while for the oak to integrate and it will be amazing. 92/100
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Vin Sans Chimie Cabernet Franc Lieu Dit Murasaki Numero Trois 2016
Lovely rounded sweet cherry and raspberry fruit here: this has texture and depth here. Lovely mouthfeel: there’s a purity of fruit, coupled with nice structure, and it’s really seductive. 92/100
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Vins Sans Chimie Merlot Lieu Dit Murasaki Numéro Quatre 2016
13 months in old oak only, whole berry fermentation, wild yeast. Fresh, fine and supple with bright cherry and raspberry fruit. Quite restrained with juicy acidity and a taut personality, but there’s enough generosity, too. Lively and focused with a citrussy edge. 90/100
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Vins Sans Chimie Cabernet Sauvignon Lieu Dit Murasaki Numéro Sept 2016
13 months in old oak only, whole berry fermentation, wild yeast. Harvested end of October/beginning of November. Juicy and berryish with nice freshness and a lovely blackcurrant core. Nicely integrated greenness here. Vivid and focused with some structure. Nice grip on the finish. Lovely wine. 92/100
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Vins Sans Chimie Merlot et Tannat Lieu Dit Murasaki Numéro Cinq 2016
He likes Tannat because of its low pH. 13 months in old oak only, whole berry fermentation, wild yeast. Co-planted in the same block and co-fermented, approximately 70% Merlot. Concentrated and dense with lovely black fruits. Good structure and weight here with lots of tannic structure. This has such freshness and structure: a really impressive wine with potential for development. 93/100
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Vin Sans Chimie Merlot et Tannat Lieu Dit Murasaki Numéro Cinq 2016
Concentrated and structured with dense black fruits and nice spiciness. Robust and tannic with a really appealing rich but fresh personality. Lovely wine. Good acid. 92/100
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Vins Sans Chimie Barbera Lieu Dit Murasaki Numéro Quatre 2016
Another variety with good sugar levels at low pH. Fresh and quite elegant with a subtle green hint to the fresh raspberry and cherry fruit. This has a fine herby twist and it’s really harmonious, with good acidity but also a smooth mid-palate. Very expressive. 92/100
Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Vins Sans Chimie Petit Verdot 2015
Whole berry fermentation for 10 days without any punching down. Has some green hints here with a touch of herb and tar, as well as some sweet black fruits. Lovely fresh raspberry fruit on thbe finish with good structure. A little closed at the moment. Needs time to open out. 90/100