Koshu of Japan
It is rare to encounter a completely new and unknown wine country - the specific nuances of some less familiar sub-region keen to make a name for itself become the most novel experiences after a while. That and the anticipation of the new vintage from a classic region.
But tasting Koshu of Japan was suddenly like being a novice all over again - no context, no backstory, no reference point.
Nothing other than one's palate as a guide - it all felt very strange and foreign.
The whites were exclusively the Koshu variety, but from a range of areas with varying treatments, soil types and elevations - it seems Japan does both technique and terroir.
In simple term Koshu is a lightish, elegant and versatile white with citrussy fruit and a slightly herby, floral character.
It is pure and precise, often like a classic Loire Chenin, Chablis or a Burgundy.
Grown at altitude and / or on slatey, granite soils, it gains a Riesling-esque minerality; it responds well to oak and also produces an excellent fizz.
It is the sort of wine that makes you think of Sushi, lemongrass and Japanese noodles.
Being both well-made and Japanese, it is not in the supermarket price bracket; mid-teens to mid-twenties is the general range for still whites.
If kiwi Sauvignon is your reference point, then probably not.
If you are prepared to try it in lieu of a Grand Cru Chablis or white Burgundy, then you will find the experience rewarding and enlightening.
There were also a couple of reds made from Bordeaux blends - the standout was a 2009 Rubaiyat with supple texture and fine, harmonious tannins.