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Freixenet makes wine for Japanese food

Freixenet’s Japanese winemaker has developed a wine purely for Japanese food.

Winemaker Yoko Sato, who has been based at the giant Spanish producer’s headquarters in Penedes for the last seven years, made sushi an intrinsic part of the blending process.

‘I always had sushi on the table when blending,’ she told decanter.com. ‘It is a struggle to find the best wine match to go with rice, as it has a sweetness. Japanese food consists of many different tastes in one dish.’

Oroyo – Spanish for a basket which is used to transport goods over a river – is made of Airen, Macabeo and Moscatel. The 2005 is the first vintage in the UK, the 2004 in the US. 180,000 bottles have been produced, rising to 200,000 for the 2006 vintage.

It is ‘has gone down very well in the US,’ a Freixenet spokeswoman said. In the UK it is being sold mostly on-trade, and is on the wine list at London Japanese restaurant Ubon at £29.

Sato said the particular challenge with Japanese food is the fact that it has evolved without a wine culture. Instead beer, sake or green tea is traditionally drunk at meals.

‘I kept those drinks in mind but didn’t try to reproduce their tastes in the the blend,’ she said. ‘The balance was the big challenge. Too acid and it crashed with the rice, too green and it created a bitterness. Verdejo didn’t work for that reason.’

Next on the list ‘might be a rosé’, Sato said, addding that she would like to use some traditional northeastern Spanish varietals like Trepat and Bobal, maybe with Garnacha or Monastrell.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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