Nagano region, Japan (14) Domaine Sogga/Obusé Winery

This was my second visit with a winery that I’d classify as Nagano’s best at the moment. Domaine Sogga, also known as Obusé Winery, is based in Obusé and is run by Akihiko Soga (just the one ‘g’ in his name, but two in the domaine’s).

Akihiko is fastidious, talented and experienced. The winery is an old Japanese sake brewery that was founded in 1842. His father become interested in making cider: this area is famous for its apples. But it was his grandfather who had leanings towards wine. In the 1970s he planted vineyards with table grapes, and then later on, in 1996, he planted some Merlot in Takayima village.

Inertys press, which protects the must from oxygen

Akihiko wanted to make wine, and graduated in enology and viticulture from the University of Yamanashi. He then went abroad and did a stage at Long Depaquit before returning to Japan in 1988. Since 2006 he’s been working with organics, and now four of his eight hectares are farmed organically.

We began by looking at some barrels.

Barrel tasting of 2018s

  • Domaine Merlot, vineyard 4
    This is whole berry fermentation, with soft pigeage. Supple, fresh and expressive with elegant berry fruits and some red cherry notes. Very fine. 91-93/100
  • Merlot, vineyard 1
    This parcel has very good drainaged and small berries. Vibrant raspberry and berry fruits nose with good structure and intensity. Direct and vivid. 91-93/100
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
    Ungrafted vines. Very fresh and leafy with nice blackcurrant fruit and firm structure. Nice open berry fruits here with good focus. 90-92/100
  • Tannat 2018
    Grippy, dense and vivid with nice raspberry and blackberry fruit. Lovely presence and weight with good structure. From young vines. 90-92/100
  • Petit Verdot 2018
    Green and fleshy at the same time with lovely red and black fruits. Has nice generosity and also some greenness, as well as firm tannins. 90-92/100
  • Petit Manseng 2018
    Picked at 25 Brix, pH 3.1, 15% alcohol. This is very stylish with concentrated pear and peach fruit and nice texture. Good acidity. 90-92/100
  • Organic Petit Manseng 2018
    Harvested at 27 Brix, ferment stopped early. Sweet pear and apple fruit. Off dry, with nice acidity and a hint of green. 90-92/100

Tasting bottled wines

Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Albariño 2018
Picked at 21 Briz, pH 3.2. Lovely aromatics here with some apricot and citrus fruit. Very fine. The palate is dry and fresh with nice bright, focused fruit. Shows high acidity. Very characterful with pretty tangerine and apricot fruit and lemony freshness. 92/100

Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Cinq Cepages 2018
This is a co-ferment of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat and others. It’s supple, light and fresh with nice fruity notes  with textured peach and pear fruit, a bit of grapiness and some green tea. Very nice combination of flavours here. 90/100

Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Cabernet Frank Murasaki Numero Trois 2016
Rounded, elegant sweet red berries and cherry with a hint of strawberry. Supple and bright with a bit of grip. Fine-textured with some generosity but also good structure. Ripe and expressive. 93/100

Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Merlot No 4 2016
This is concentrated, fresh and structured with nice purity and elegance. Rounded red cherry and berry fruits with real purity. Very finely structured, this is quite beautiful. There’s power but it is hidden. 94/100

Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Merlot and Tannat No 5 2016
Dense with sweet black fruits. A little bit of lift, and firm tannic structure. Supple with some fine green notes and a bright finish. A touch balsamic on the finish. Lots of interest here. 91/100

Obusé Winery Domaine Sogga Petit Manseng Moelleux 2017
Amazing analysis here: it was 25 Brix at 12% potential alchol. Lively and powerful  with high acid and notes of lemons, baked apple and tinned pear. Such a striking wine with high acidity balancing out the sweetness. 92/100

Domaine Cacteaux is farmed and made by Obusé but it’s not from the domaine, so it’s called Sogga Pere et Fils to note that it’s a negociant operation.

Sogga Père et Fils Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Lively and bright with keen citrus fruit and a bit of pith. Has freshness with good acidity. Stony and mineral in a savoury style. 89/100

Sogga Père et Fils Chardonnay Reserve Privee 2017
Nutty, spicy nose with some fine toasty detail. Very fine. The palate is refuned with stylish oak (100% new) that integrates well. Good acidity here. Lemony and precise. 94/100

Sogga Père et Fils Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Fresh leafy nose. Elegant, light, supple palate with juicy cherry and plum fruit. Fresh with nice balance and purity. This is a lovely lighter-style red. 90/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

Nagano Wine Region (2019)

Nagano Wine Region (2018)

 

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