The Katsunuma winery is a 3-generation-old winery and was founded in 1937. Also known under the name of Aruga Branca, it is owned by Mr Yuji Aruga and makes wine from a 5,5-hectare fully-owned vineyard, plus from 15 hectares of contracted vineyards, and from the additional 10 hectares of cooperative production. Total production is 300 000 bottles. 70% of the harvested grapes at the Katsunuma winery are the famed Koshu grapes, the indigenous Japanese white variety.
This is not the reason why we went to this winery for a visit, but it is interesting to note that several of Katsunuma winery's wines were selected by Japan Airlines for its in-flight first-class service. As an additional sign that more Japanese wines have been reaching a new level of quality on these recent years, a wine buyer in a world-class airline considered several of them could be served routinely to its top-tier clients. For the information, JAL selected 3 Koshu wines, Arega Branca Clareza 2005, Aruga Branca Issehara 2006 and Aruga Branca Pipa 2003.
The winery and its vineyard lies in a mountainous region with the Chichibu mountains [picture on the left] on one side and the southern Alps, and the Fuji Hakone Izu on another. These mountains sort of bring some cool air and, I guess, stop some of the rain before it reaches the area.
But now that several Japanese wines were in a position to compete side to side with international quality wines, help began to arrive, and Mr Yuji Aruga was contacted one day by Bernard Magrez, owner of the prestigious Chateau Pape Clement, who wanted to do something with the Katsunuma winery. A partnership was created and a wine bearing the label "Magrez Aruga Koshu" was marketed for the European consumers. The Katsunuma enologist keeps full control over the vinification and Bernard Magrez helps for the distribution and importation in France and elsewhere. This cuvée had an annual production of 1500 bottles.
__Kosho Aruga Clareza 2005. Aged on its lees. Nose : intense and refined. About SO2, the norm around here is 150-200 while at Katsunuma winery it is about 90. Speaking of yeasts, they are thinking about making wine with the indigenous yeasts but want to wait that the company is well entrenched first. The wine has a solar mouth, B. notes. Stainless-steel vats here too.
__Koshu Aruga Branca Pipa 2004. [picture on left] Toasted aromas on the nose. Nice golden color in the glass. Koshu wine offers both delicate aromas and a big aromatic potential, as discovered by a research department of the Bordeaux University. To test this potential, they froze the must and then made this wine from it :Very nice wine. The mouth is ample and classy. They got a medal at the Vinalies for this wine. As the process is not conventional, they are going to reduce the yields on the vineyards so as to get the same beautiful result without having to freeze the must.
__Koshu Aruga Branca Issehara 2007. Very aromatic nose. B. feels some juniper tree aromas. Blackcurrant sprouts. I feel also some Sauvignon aromas. B. likes the vividness of this wine. 582 bottles made of this wine only. Issehara is a monopole. The mouth is neat and balanced. Vinified in a vat.
__Koshu Aruga Branca Vinhal Ioshinden 2006. Vinified in a cask. Clear golden color. Woody aromas.