February 1, 2015
My Ten Favorite Whites
2012 Mie Ikeno Cardonnay (89+?): Light yellow. Fresh pear and quince aromas are complemented by white flowers and lemon zest. Delicate and lively on the nicely balanced palate, this Chardonnay from Yamanashi offers fresh citrus and orchard fruit flavors along with a hint of candied ginger. Finishes very naturally, with a touch of chalkiness and very good spicy persistence.
My Ten Favorite Reds
2012 Mie Ikeno Merlot (88): Bright ruby-red. Blackberry, Bing cherry and licorice aromas are lifted by notes of rosemary and thyme. Although very approachable, the black fruit flavors also offer surprising depth. The tannins are suave yet quite firm for a Merlot from Yamanashi, with the finish boasting good length. I might mistake this for a Montagne Saint-Emilion in a blind tasting.
More Burgundian in character are the wines of Mie Ikeno, an editor who in her second career studied winemaking in Montpellier. When she returned home, she planted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot at an altitude of 750 meters in the hills near Mount Fuji. With the first vintage from her own grapes in 2010, she caught the local wine world off guard. In particular, her Chardonnay was soon recognized as one of the best in the country. With a total production of only 5,000 bottles, though, she is not yet causing Suntory any sleepless nights.