Wine of the week: the otherworldly silkiness of Japanese koshu

Japan’s koshu grape is a hard one to love, but this fascinating wine has an otherworldly silkiness, says Matthew Jukes.

2018 Grace, Koshu Private Reserve, Yamanashi, Japan £20.95,

This is the first time that I have felt moved to write up a koshu in this column. Japan’s most famous grape is a hard one to love. I have attended annual koshu tastings for a good few years and I have always felt rather depressed at the gallons of innocuous, feeble, hollow wines which are seemingly prized by koshu lovers. Water white, mildly soapy, short and dilute, this is a style of white wine that apparently goes beautifully with sushi and other Japanese fare and yet I cannot think of a wine style less capable of handling soy sauce, wasabi, teriyaki and other accompaniments to this heavenly style of cuisine.

Koshu tend to be expensive too and some, can you believe it, are oaked – this is a very delicate white grape which struggles with lees contact let alone the influence of a macho oak barrel! Anyway, I have remained open-minded and this year both my featured wine and also the 2018 Grace Koshu Kayagatake (£21.99, passed muster, along with the 2019 vintages of both wines, given that they both possessed a lot more character than the other wines on show and also that I could imagine myself ordering a bottle in a restaurant.

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With a flavour not unlike a feather-light albariño and with an otherworldly silkiness to the touch, these are fascinating wines. Stick to the Grace winery for the time being though – the others are far too feeble to warrant a second glance.

Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.  

Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.

He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website,

Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’.  He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner. 

Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy.  His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.