Top 19 Best Yamanashi Wines to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!

Yamanashi has been pushing its way into the forefront of the wine world in recent years, taking multiple medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Its alcohol has begun appearing as selections on lists of fine wines at international establishments. It’s contributed to the current surge in Japanese wine tourism.

The wine industry in Japan is still continuing to grow and develop, and we thought it was high time for an updated list of the best Yamanashi wines available to consumers now. So we pulled up a list of famous Yamanashi wineries, including the award-winning L’orient Winery and Grace Wine, and ordered their 19 most popular wines from Japan’s e-commerce giants.

We also consulted certified wine experts and sommeliers and hosted a wine tasting. We tested for the following point(s):

1. Deliciousness

This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Yamanashi wine. We’ve got a good line-up, ranging from reasonable selections you can enjoy after every evening meal and more expensive ones for special occasions.
  • Last updated: 10-24-2019
  • 123 views
Table of Contents

A Slightly More Formal Introduction to Yamanashi Wine

A Slightly More Formal Introduction to Yamanashi Wine
Okay, so we may have gotten a bit over-zealous, but we realize that not everyone is an expert on Yamanashi wines. Here’s a quick primer. The phrase “Yamanashi wine” refers to wine fermented and bottled in Yamanashi prefecture; it must also be wholly made up of grapes cultivated in Yamanashi.
Even if a wine was produced in Yamanashi, unless it clears several conditions set by Japan’s National Tax Agency (for some reason), it cannot officially be labeled “Yamanashi wine.” These conditions touch upon things like the variety of grapes used, the method of cultivation, and the level of alcohol.
Only after it has met these conditions and passed an inspection can a wine claim the title (and label) of Yamanashi wine.
And we mentioned this before, but Yamanashi wines have recently been bringing home medals from the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA), further cementing Yamanashi’s international renown.

How to Choose Yamanashi Wine – Buying Guide

We’ll get into how we tested and compared all the wines, but before that, we want to introduce two things you should look out for when picking out Yamanashi wine.

① What Grapes are Being Used?

If you want to know your wines, then you’ve got to know your grapes. Because once you know your grapes, you’ll be able to make a rough guess as to the taste of any wine.
Yamanashi wine can be made from all sorts of grapes, from local species to internationally-grown celebrities. Here are a few of the most common.

Japan’s Native Variety: Koshu

Japan’s Native Variety: Koshu
Koshu※1 is a white wine grape. It’s indigenous to Japan, though it does carry some European DNA. It isn’t too heady and instead has a light, clean scent–almost citrus-like–and biting acidity. When particularly sour, it gives off a fragrance similar to that of lemons or limes; when more mellow, it’s likened to the Japanese citrus fruits yuzu and sudachi.
To experience the full flavor of Koshu grapes, try them in a simple white wine. If you are searching for greater depth, try something where the winemaking process was more involved, such as a bottle aged sur lie– that is, aged directly on the lees for lengths of time in order to extract and fill out flavors.
※1 甲州: Koshu

Known for Its Thick Umami: Muscat Bailey A

Known for Its Thick Umami: Muscat Bailey A
Muscat Bailey A’s※2 a red wine grape and can be said to be the face of Japan’s wine industry. It’s got a sweet scent, reminiscent of strawberry gumdrops or cotton candy, as well as a sharp sourness. It’s lightly tannic and bursts in your mouth with all the force of fresh fruit.
That clean, fruity taste makes Muscat Bailey A wines a perfect companion for Japanese meat and fish dishes. Try them if you find most red wines too astringent.
※2 マスカット・ベーリーA: Muscat Bailey A

Skillfully Balances out Bitter and Sour Elements: Cabernet Sauvignon

Skillfully Balances out Bitter and Sour Elements: Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon※3 is the most popular variety of black grape in the world. It’s got an extremely rich fragrance–a mixture of the thick fruitiness of dark-skinned berries like blackcurrants and the spiciness of pepper, with the refreshing chill of mint thrown in.
Cabernet Sauvignon is both sour and tannic, and simply by exposing it to air, you can change its flavor in subtle and wonderful ways. It pairs well with Western foods–in particular, roasts of red meat and steak.
※3 カベルネ・ソーヴィニョン: Cabernet Sauvignon

Round and Mellow in Flavor: Merlot

Round and Mellow in Flavor: Merlot
Merlot※4 is second in popularity only to Carbernet Sauvignon. It’s got a scent that’s sometimes compared to ripe black cherries and, when more bitter, likened to coffee or chocolate.
It’s less sour and tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s smooth and has an elegant taste; this, too, would be a good choice for those who don’t like astringent wines.
Merlot goes well with foods that are more mellow and full; think of stewed and braised meat dishes like beef stew or even the Japanese hot pot dish sukiyaki.
※4 メルロー: Merlot

Takes on Different Characteristics Depending on Where It was Produced: Chardonnay

Takes on Different Characteristics Depending on Where It was Produced: Chardonnay
Chardonnay※5 is called the Queen of White Wines. Its flavor changes depending on the place and method of production.
In colder climates, Chardonnay takes on an elegant taste that’s sharply acidic, as well as the fragrance of apples or pears. In warmer climates, it takes on a full, mellow flavor similar to ripe pineapples or banana.
Chardonnay wine produced in Yamanashi has the refreshing scent of green apples. It tastes fresh and elegant. It complements not only fish but also pork and poultry dishes.
※5 シャルドネ: Chardonnay

Known as the Phantom Grape: Adirondac

Known as the Phantom Grape: Adirondac
Vineyards that cultivate Adirondac※6 are extremely rare, earning it the appellation of “phantom grape.” In Japan, most producers are near the Katsunuma region in Yamanashi prefecture.
Cultivating Adirondac is a painstaking process, which is why there are few dedicated vineyards. Not only must you harvest the grapes with care, cradling each cluster in both hands, but they’re also particularly susceptible to pests like birds and insects–producers know not to expect bountiful harvests.
Adirondac has the sweet scent of raspberries and feels clean–elegant–on the tongue. It also tastes of fruit, both round and delicate.
※6 アジロンダック: Adirondac

Often Snacked Upon Whole: Delaware, Niagara, Kyoho

Often Snacked Upon Whole: Delaware, Niagara, Kyoho
Delaware※7, Niagara※8, and Kyoho※9 are varieties you can find in supermarkets.
They smell fruity and taste sweet, which is why they’re so often snacked on, but in wines, these characteristics come off too strong and often overpower the taste of other foods. Honestly speaking, even when fermented, the grapes taste more like juice than wine.
Actually, most wines made from grapes that are normally eaten turn out sweet. Therefore, they’re best had after dinner as a dessert wine; you would also like them if you aren’t a big fan of alcohol and/or are looking for a sweet wine that’s easy to swallow.
※7 デラウエア: Delaware
※8 ナイアガラ: Niagara
※9 巨峰: Kyoho

② At Which Winery was It Produced?

② At Which Winery was It Produced?
Out of the 280-some wineries in Japan, over 80 are located in Yamanashi.
Each brand has a character of its own and certain peculiarities–there’s Kurambon Winery, for example, which specializes in sweet alcohols, and Grace Wine, known for their delicate dries. So once you’ve found a Yamanashi wine that you particularly like, we recommend tucking away the name of its producer in your mind.
Many wineries also participate in the Yamanashi Nouveau, a festival that celebrates the release of new wines. It’s held annually, on the third of November in Tokyo and a bit later in Yamanashi prefecture. If you get a chance, do participate–it’s always great fun to find a winery you love and compare their new concoctions with old favorites.
Below, we’ve introduced two wineries you may have already heard of; they’ve both won gold at international wine competitions and are the current forerunners of the Japanese winemaking industry.

Grace Wine

Grace Wine
Grace Wine is a long-standing winery established in 1923 in the town of Katsunuma in Yamanashi prefecture. They mainly cultivate Koshu grapes but also deal in Western varieties such as Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Grace Wine adds no extra sweet or sour elements to their products; their principle is to make wine in as natural a way as possible. They produce Koshu wines that have umami and are both clean and elegant.
The woman in charge of cultivation over at Misawa Vineyards and the current chief winemaker at Grace Wines, Ayana Misawa, studied abroad in both France and South Africa, where she learned about the art of winemaking. Upon her return to Japan, she worked on the Cuvée Misawa Akeno Koshu 2013, which won gold at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Grace Wine is at the forefront of Japanese winemaking and and is the winery that made the world aware of the limitless potential of Koshu grapes.

L’Orient Winery

L’Orient Winery
L’Orient is a family winery that spans three generations, stretching back to 1938, when it was also established in the town of Katsunuma in Yamanashi prefecture.
As a winery from the Orient, L’Orient seeks to craft high-quality wines that don’t pale even in comparison to those produced by well-established makers in Europe. L’Orient’s winery is also a must-see for anyone interested in Yamanashi wine tours, as it offers visitors a chance to tread on grapes, bottle wines, and design their own labels.
As for its performance at the Decanter World Wine Awards, L’Orient brought home the gold medal with its first entry ever: the Cellar Master Koshu 2016.

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them
Now to introduce the 19 most popular Yamanashi wines that we ordered and the process by which we tasted them.
1. Diamond Breweries Muscat Bailey A Ycube (ダイヤモンド酒造 ますかっとべーりーA Ycube)
2. Suntory Tomi no Oka Winery Tomi no Oka Red (サントリー 登美の丘ワイナリー 登美の丘 赤)
3. Manns Wines Koshu Sparkling Wine ~Kobo no Awa~ (マンズワイン 甲州 酵母の泡)
4. Maruki Winery Kyoho Nigori (まるき葡萄酒 巨峰にごり)
5. Grace Wine Grace Koshu (中央葡萄酒 グレイス甲州)
6. Soryu Winery Freezing Wine Red (蒼龍葡萄酒 フリージングワイン 赤)
7. Toriivilla Imamura Katsunuma Rouge (鳥居平今村 勝沼 ルージュ)
8. Suntory Japan Premium Koshu (サントリー ジャパンプレミアム 甲州)
9. Grace Wine Koshu Toriibira Vineyard Private Reserve (中央葡萄酒 甲州 鳥居平畑 プライベートリザーブ)
10. Lumiére Sparkling Koshu (ルミエール スパークリング 甲州)
11. Marufuji Winery Rubaiyat Koshu Sur Lie (ルバイヤート 甲州シュール・リー)
12. Château Mercian Koshu Gris de Gris (シャトー・メルシャン 甲州グリ・ド・グリ)
13. Haramo Wine Koshu Lees contact (原茂ワイン 甲州シュールリー)
14. Kurambon Wine Adirondac (くらむぼんワイン アジロンダック)
15. Marufuji Winery Rubaiyat Muscat Bailey A Barrel Aged Red (丸藤葡萄酒 ルバイヤート マスカットベリーA樽貯蔵 赤)
16. Chânmoris Wine Niagara (盛田甲州ワイナリー ナイアガラ)
17. Kurambon Wine Bel Alba Muscat Bailey A (くらむぼんワイン ベルアルバ マスカットベーリーA)
18. Katsunuma Winery Arugano Clan (勝沼醸造 アルガーノクラン)
19. Chateau Sakaori Koshu Dry (シャトー酒折 甲州ドライ)
We then tested for flavor.

Test: Deliciousness

Test: Deliciousness
Testing this time was simple–we were looking for a delicious wine.
We had wine experts try all the wines and look for ones that skillfully balanced sweetness and acidity and tasted good. We then graded each wine on a five-step scale from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: Many of the Wines Received High Marks. But the Best-Tasting Wines were the Ones that Drew out the Character of the Grapes

The Big Takeaway: Many of the Wines Received High Marks. But the Best-Tasting Wines were the Ones that Drew out the Character of the Grapes
Generally speaking, all the Yamanashi wines were tasty. But of the ones that received an A or A+, most in some way reflected the characteristics of the grapes used. If it was a Koshu wine, for example, it contrasted sharp acidity with a gentle citrusy scent. If it was Muscat Bailey A, it smelled of strawberry gumdrops and cotton candy but was also sour and tannic.
Know, too, that flavor is incredibly elusive when it comes to description. Not all wine will taste like what it says on the label. However, most of the wines that we gave high scores to did live up to their claims and accurately mirrored the descriptions put forth by the brand.
Finally, when you find a wine you like, remember to write down where and by whom it was produced and what grapes were used. If you share that information with a sommelier, he or she will be able to introduce you to more wines that you’re sure to enjoy.

The Final Verdict: Top 19 Best Yamanashi Wines to Buy Online 2019

Now to introduce the 19 most popular Yamanashi wines available online. They were ranked by how well they did during tasting and given an overall “deliciousness” grade ranging from D to A+.
Grape/WineKyoho/Rosé
WineryMaruki Winery
Sourness★★☆☆☆
Sweetness★★★★☆
Bitterness★☆☆☆☆
Complexity★☆☆☆☆
Fruitiness★★★★☆
DeliciousnessB
Grape/WineBlack Queen/Red
WineryChateau Katsunuma
Sourness★★★☆☆
Sweetness★★★☆☆
Bitterness★★★★★
Complexity★★★★☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessB
Grape/WineMuscat Bailey A, Cabernet Sauvignon/Red
WineryKatsunuma Winery
Sourness★★★★★
Sweetness★☆☆☆☆
Bitterness★★★★☆
Complexity★★★☆☆
Fruitiness★★☆☆☆
DeliciousnessB
Grape/WineAdirondac/Red
WineryKurambon Wine
Sourness★★★☆☆
Sweetness★★★★☆
Bitterness★★☆☆☆
Complexity★★☆☆☆
Fruitiness★★★★☆
DeliciousnessB
Grape/WineNiagara/White, Dessert
WineryMorita Koshu – Chânmoris
Sourness★☆☆☆☆
Sweetness★★★★☆
Bitterness★☆☆☆☆
Complexity★☆☆☆☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessB
Grape/WineKoshu/White
WineryChateau Sakaori
Sourness★★★☆☆
Sweetness★★☆☆☆
Bitterness★★★★☆
Complexity★★★☆☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessB
Grape/WineKoshu/Sparkling
WineryManns Wines Katsunuma Winery
Sourness★★☆☆☆
Sweetness★★★☆☆
Bitterness★☆☆☆☆
Complexity★☆☆☆☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessB
Grape/WineKoshu/White
WinerySuntory
Sourness★★★★☆
Sweetness★★★☆☆
Bitterness★★☆☆☆
Complexity★★☆☆☆
Fruitiness★★☆☆☆
DeliciousnessB
Grape/WineMerlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Muscat Bailey A/Red
WinerySuntory Tomi no Oka Winery
Sourness★★☆☆☆
Sweetness★★★☆☆
Bitterness★★★☆☆
Complexity★★★★☆
Fruitiness★★☆☆☆
DeliciousnessB
Grape/WineKoshu/White
WineryHaramo Wine
Sourness★★★☆☆
Sweetness★★★☆☆
Bitterness★★★☆☆
Complexity★★★☆☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessA
Grape/WineMuscat Bailey A, Merlot/Red
WineryMarufuji Winery – Rubaiyat
Sourness★★★★☆
Sweetness★★☆☆☆
Bitterness★★☆☆☆
Complexity★★★★☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessA
Grape/WineMuscat Bailey A/Red, Dessert
WinerySoryu Winery
Sourness★★★☆☆
Sweetness★★★★★
Bitterness★★☆☆☆
Complexity★★☆☆☆
Fruitiness★★★★★
DeliciousnessA
Grape/WineMuscat Bailey A/Rosé
WineryKurambon Wine
Sourness★★☆☆☆
Sweetness★★☆☆☆
Bitterness★★★★☆
Complexity★★★★☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessA
Grape/WineMuscat Bailey A/Red
WineryDiamond Breweries
Sourness★☆☆☆☆
Sweetness★★★★☆
Bitterness★☆☆☆☆
Complexity★★☆☆☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessA
Grape/WineKoshu/White
WineryMarufuji Winery – Rubaiyat
Sourness★★★☆☆
Sweetness★★☆☆☆
Bitterness★★★★☆
Complexity★★★★☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessA
Grape/WineKoshu/White
WineryChâteau Mercian
Sourness★★★☆☆
Sweetness★★☆☆☆
Bitterness★★★☆☆
Complexity★★★★☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessA+
Grape/WineKoshu/White
WineryCentral Wine – Grace Wine
Sourness★★★★☆
Sweetness★★☆☆☆
Bitterness★★★★☆
Complexity★★★☆☆
Fruitiness★★☆☆☆
DeliciousnessA+
Grape/WineKoshu/Sparkling
WineryLumiére Winery
Sourness★★★★☆
Sweetness★★☆☆☆
Bitterness★★★☆☆
Complexity★★★☆☆
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessA+
Grape/WineKoshu/White
WineryCentral Wine – Grace Wine
Sourness★★★★☆
Sweetness★★☆☆☆
Bitterness★★★☆☆
Complexity★★★★★
Fruitiness★★★☆☆
DeliciousnessA+

How about a Pint?

If you’re into Japanese alcohols, how about learning more about our beers? We’ve got plenty of famous brands–Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo–and brew in all kinds of styles. We even have categories of beer that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Click below to find out more!

Summary

We rounded up tasters and members of our editing department, purchased the 19 top-selling bottles of Yamanashi wine, and tested them all.
Though we think that the elegance of our first-place pick, Grace Wine’s Koshu Toriibira Vineyard Private Reserve, is universally appealing, your writer personally wants to recommend Kurambon Wine’s Bel Alba Muscat Bailey A. She loved it for its complexity of flavor and bitterness that traveled down the depths of her stomach, as well as for its pretty color.
No matter what anyone says, there is always an element to food and drink that’s personal. So take a close look at our scores for specific elements like sweetness and sourness, and pick a Yamanashi wine that’s appealing to you.
Original by Rikako Miyazaki; Translation by Jasmine Li

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    Soy sauce※1 is the driving force behind flavor in a number of famous Asian dishes, be it stirfry, soup, or cold seaweed salad. That’s why there’s so many different kinds–each with a different color, depth, and flavor profile, some best when heated in a pan, some best when poured straight into a little sauce dish. Depending on the kind of soy sauce you use, you could completely rework a flavor.And whether it’s because you love Japanese cuisine and want to be as authentic as possible or you live in Japan and need help navigating the supermarket, you’re interested in finding the ultimate Japanese soy sauce. Well, this time around, we ordered the 9 most popular bottles of soy sauce available in Japanese supermarkets and on e-commerce sites and tested them all.We also invited three certified seasoning sommeliers and asked them to taste each product. (For those that are unfamiliar with seasoning sommeliers, they are professionals that have passed an exam proctored by the Japan Seasoning Meisters Association.) The three experts then compared the following:1. Savoriness※22. Sweetness3. Fragrance4. Umami (or Fullness of Flavor)※35. Utility and Compatible FoodsThis is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese soy sauces.※1 醤油: soy sauce※2 塩味: savoriness (here, used to indicate saltiness and flavors opposed to sweetness)※3 旨味: umami (while often translated as savoriness, here we use it to mean a lush layering of flavors, like what you would find in a full-bodied wine)
    Food and drinks
    884 views
  • Top 10 Best Salts to Buy Online 2019
    Top 10 Best Salts to Buy Online 2019
    No spice rack is complete without salt. But there are so many kinds: processed salt, sea salt, table salt, himalayan salt, and so on. How are you supposed to figure which’ll suit your palate?Well, it’s important to know what features to consider when purchasing salt. Find out where it’s from, how it tastes, what it costs, what’s inside, and what people have said about it. Then flip through your recipe book, and figure out just how you use salt.
    Food and drinks
    750 views
  • Top 10 Best Instant Breakfast Drinks to Buy Online 2019
    Top 10 Best Instant Breakfast Drinks to Buy Online 2019
    Many of us lead busy lives and don’t have time to prepare breakfast in the morning. Enter instant breakfast. They come in either liquid or powdered forms, and in a range of dietary variations to suit your needs.Some drinks double as meal replacements, others as simply snacks to jumpstart your morning. Welcome to the world of instant breakfast drinks, the fastest way to start your day.
    Food and drinks
    1,281 views
  • Top 10 Best Jelly Beans to Buy Online 2019
    Top 10 Best Jelly Beans to Buy Online 2019
    So, you’re craving jelly beans. We understand–good beans are irresistible. You’re looking for that initial crunch, followed by sweet, delectable gooeyness. You’re looking for your favorite flavors–the sunny intoxication of pina colada, maybe, or the sour fizz of lemon.And are we the only ones that find jelly beans utterly adorable? (Pour a few in a Mason Jar, and you’ve got interior design, right there.) The ultimate pack of jelly beans, we think, has got it all: texture, taste, and appearance. But with all the different brands–no, it’s not just Jelly Belly–and variety out there, how can you be sure that you’re really chewing on the best? Let’s get in-depth about these gelatinous beans.
    Food and drinks
    355 views
  • Top 10 Best Healthy Chocolates to Buy Online 2019
    Top 10 Best Healthy Chocolates to Buy Online 2019
    Chocolate is often thought of as a guilty pleasure, but in fact, some chocolates can be outright good for you! To help you feel a little better about your cocoa addiction, we decided to look for the best healthy chocolates.In our research, we found that the best chocolates have less ingredients but more cocoa, are low in sugar, and fit your dietary restrictions. Keeping these things in mind, we’ve put together a list of our favorite healthy chocolates available online.
    Food and drinks
    52 views
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