Nagano wine region, Japan (6) – Manns Wines Komoro Winery

Jamie Goode's wine blog jamiegoode

Manns wines is owned by soy sauce producer Kikkoman, and there are two sites. This, the Komoro Winery, is where the proper Japan wines (the legal term for wines made solely from Japanese-grown grapes) are produced, including the prestige Solaris range. The other site is the Katsunuma Winery in Yamanashi, where some cheaper wines are made that aren’t just based on Japanese grapes.

We visited with Dai Shimazaki, President and CEO. Dai studied in Bordeaux, and thus has an international perspective. The Komoro winery receives about 100 tons each year, and this is a 50:50 split between contract and own grown.

Old Chardonnay vineyard, with lyre trellising

We just tasted the Solaris wines, which are the high end wines from this region. These are classically styled, well made wines.

The garden at Manns Wine Komoro

The century old Zenkoji vine

The winery has a beautiful garden, including a century old Ryugan (aka Zenkoji) vine, which is a Chinese variety a bit like Koshu, with big bunches of big, pink berries. Near the winery there’s also a plot of old Chardonnay vines that are used to make their top Chardonnay.

The Chardonnay vineyard with the rain protection system that’s applied from August onwards, to protect the grapes from the seasonal rainfall that can cause disease problems

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Methode Traditional Brut Chardonnay 2009
100% Chardonnay, disgorged August 2017, no oak. Zero dosage. Crisp and focused with bright lemony fruit and good acidity. Very tight with a subtle nutty, slightly honeyed hint on the mid palate. Dry and focused with nice fruit presence. 88/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Method Traditional Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2008
Disgorged November 2017, no dosage. This has a strong cedar/woody character from the barrel. The acidity is prominent and it’s really nicely focused, but the wood character is getting in the way a bit. 86/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Unoaked Chardonnay 2017 (tank sample)
Crisp, stony and focused with bright citrus fruit. Lemony and stony with nice precision. Lean, flinty and delicious, showing lovely restraint. 88/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (tank sample)
First release was 2010 in the Solaris range. Stony, linear and bright with crisp citrus fruit. Very lemony with a nice mineral twist and good acidity. This is really lean and focused with a really nice balance. It has some presence, too. 89/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Shinano Riesling 2016
Developed in 1970, but the first release of this as a varietal wine was the 1991 in 1992. They wanted to maintain the aromatics of Riesling but make the vineyard practice easier, so this is a cross between Chardonnay and Riesling. This is delicate and pretty with nice citrus and pear fruit. There’s some tangerine and a bit of table grape, too. Pure and refreshing with nice acidity and focus: a light, expressive dry white. 90/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Shinshu Chardonnay 2016
A hot year and the grapes ripened rapidly, with low acidity in the beginning of September. Then it started raining and it became a very difficult vintage. This is quite nutty with some toast and butter notes as well as fresh, direct citrus and pear fruit. Refined and well made, but the oak is currently a little too high in the mix. Lovely acidity and fruit focus. 88/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Soralis Shinshu Komoro Chardonnay Barrel Ageing 2012 Richly aromatic toasty nose showing nuts, apples, spice and some citrus. The palate is very rich and broad with a strong mineral twist and plenty of toasty oak supporting the fruit. Quite old school in style but will delight lovers of rich oaky Chardonnay. 88/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Shinshu Komoro Chardonnay 2017 (barrel sample)
From the old vineyard, small production (5 barrels). One barrel is 500 litre, the rest barriques. Not made every year (for example, there was no 2016). Textured and classy with nice fine spiciness, a bit of bready character and lovely smooth but fresh pear, white peach and citrus fruit. This is superb: it has depth and focus at the same time. 92/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Juventa Rouge 2014
This is a second range of Solaris. This is a ‘young’ cuvée of 100% Merlot. Light, supple and a bit stony/gravelly with a savoury twist to the sweet, supple cherry and plum fruit. This shows elegance, restraint and drinkability, and tastes classically European. 89/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Shinshu Chikumagawa Merlot 2014
This is balanced and restrained with nice density of sweet cherry, plum and blackberry fruit, supported with good structure. There’s a bit of grip and some gravelly character. Nicely structured and poised, and very drinkable. Exemplary balance to this wine, combing sweet fruit and some non-fruit complexity. 92/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Shinshu Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
There’s a supple green edge to the perfumed fresh blackcurrant fruit. Nice weight and structure. Drinkable and digestible with some nice acidity and structure as well as focused fruit. The green notes are really nicely integrated. Has freshness and drinkability. Lovely purity. 91/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Shinshu Komoro Merlot 2015
Juicy, bright and focused with sweet berry fruits. Lively and pure with some tannic grip. Very lively with some grippy raspberry notes. This has a little flesh, but it also has bright, fresh fruit with nice grip. Berryish and delicious. 91/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Shinshu Higashiyama Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Well drained soils in Ueda, where it is a bit warmer, at 500 m. There’s a brightness to this wine, with focused raspberry and blackcurrant fruit. Good structure provides some grip, countering the vivid, juicy, expressive fruit. Very stylish and with potential for future development. 92/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Kosyu Kousyu 2005 Yamanashi
Made from Koshu, kept for 10 years in tank under nitrogen. Some sweetness here, but also nice purity of citrus and unripe pear, as well as a bit of nuttiness. Good acidity. Some pithy notes on the finish. 84/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Shinano Riesling Dry 2016
This is bright and fresh, with a very pretty citrus character. Juicy and floral with lovely balance. Such a bright, appealing wine with crisp, slightly spicy citrussy fruit and good acid. Smells sweet but is dry. 88/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Shinano Riesling 2016
Made with sussreserve (25% juice added to the dry wine). Clean and focused with nice sweet citrus, table grape and pear fruit. Pretty and pure with nice focus and fruit quality. Pure. 89/100

Manns Wines Komoro Winery Solaris Shinano Riesling Cryoextraction 2017 (tank sample)
This is really good. Concentrated but not too intense, with lovely sweet citrus fruit together with some melon and apricot richness. This has lots of texture and weight and nice sweetness, together with good balancing acidity. Lovely purity here. 92/100

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