Japan Airlines is introducing wine from Japan to its business class wine list for the
first time.The wine selected for serving in JAL Executive Class-Seasons on JAL’s Japan-Europe routes is Aruga Branca
Clareza 2005, produced from the indigenous Japanese Koshu grape variety. “Clareza” is made with the modern sur
lies process, where the wine is left to age in the vat in contact with the lees or sediments through winter to spring.
This pleasant pale golden dry white wine has a cloak of acidity well balanced with an invigorating fruity taste.
JAL will feature the wine throughout 2007 after receiving very positive reactions from
European passengers in a two-week trial period on the Tokyo-London route in October 2006.
Clareza comes from the Katsunuma winery of the Aruga family who have a 70-year history of
wine-making in the Katsunuma district in Yamanashi Prefecture, now known as Koshu City,
about 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) west of Tokyo.
Yamanashi is the home of the “Koshu” grape, indigenous to Japan and successfully cultivated
here after its introduction from China 800 years ago. Until recently, wine produced from this
grape was regarded as lightweight and undistinguished. But as a result of dedicated research
into its aroma components and fermentation methods, some growers, especially the local
Aruga family has achieved outstanding results.
One of the great merits of these new Koshu styles is their compatibility with Japanese food as
well as with European cuisine - and especially with simply prepared seafood dishes.
Apart from the new business class selection, JAL is offering two other Aruga Koshu varietals in their new 2007
first class wine list.
These are the Aruga Branca Issehara 2006 and the Aruga Branca Pipa 2003. Differences in ‘terroir’ produce slight
differences among the Koshu grapes from various grape-growing districts of Katsunuma. This elegant wine from
the single vineyard of Issehara in the district is fruity but “off dry” with a hint of sweetness.
“Pipa” is made first by fermenting specially selected Koshu grapes of concentrated fruit and fully developed acidity,
then by maturing in French oak casks for six months to ensue a firm body.In addition to the new range of Koshu white wines, JAL has also selected a Japanese red for the first class wine list,
a Solaris Shinshu Komoro Merlot 2003.
This comes from the Osato district of Komoro City on the Chikuma River in eastern Nagano Prefecture, where
Manns Wine, a major Japanese wine-maker, has been growing Merlot grapes using special techniques to suit
Japanese conditions. Only the highest quality grapes from the vineyard, amounting to a third of the average yield,
are used in the vintage. The vineyard is covered for protection from the elements. The resulting wine, with a
bouquet of vanilla from virgin oak casks, offers a sound and round aftertaste of fruit and tannin.
Japan Airlines (JAL) has won the Best First Class Red category in the prestigious
“Cellars in the Sky” wine awards organized by Business Traveller Magazine and Wine
and Spirit Magazine (formerly Wine International).
During a two-day tasting held in October 2006, teams of experts from Wine and Spirit
Magazine judged and compared wines from some 30 international airlines’ First and
Business class in-flight wine cellars to award winners across 14 categories.