Jacob’s Creek is launching two new wines specifically designed to complement Japanese cuisine. The
wines, called WAH White and WAH Red, were co-created by winemakers from Jacob’s Creek together with two renowned Japanese chefs. The creation of WAH represents a milestone in the storied history of wine as it was created specifically for pairing with Japanese cuisine.
WAH White was created with leading fourth-generation Japanese sushi chef Mamoru Sugiyama, who is also the owner of Michelin starred sushi restaurant Ginza Sushi Kou. WAH Red was developed in collaboration with renowned Japanese chef Toru Hashimoto, who is the fifth-generation owner and chef of the famed Kappo Nihonbashi Toyoda restaurant.
WAH was created as Jacob’s Creek saw an opportunity to develop a wine that was specially crafted to complement traditional Japanese cuisine, ranging from sushi and sashimi to yakitori and Wagyu marbled beef. The wine provides an opportunity to further broaden Jacob’s Creek’s appeal with Asian consumers and become a strong consideration for a very popular and traditional cuisine style. The character for WAH has many meanings including Japan itself, Japanese cuisine, story-telling and is also the first syllable in the word “wine” in Japanese.
Work on WAH White began with the arrival of Mamoru Sugiyama in Australia. After a visit to the local fish market to buy the freshest ingredients, Sugiyama-san prepared a variety of delectable sushi pieces at Jacob’s Creek’s brand home in the Barossa Valley. What followed were extensive discussions and intensive food and wine pairing sessions, tasting different individual varietal wines in unison with several combinations and ratios to arrive at the perfect blend for WAH.
Creek winemaker Rebekah Richardson said, “WAH White is designed to work in synergy with any Japanese dish using dashi or soy sauce, in particular with most sushi. Sugiyama-san taught us that the sushi dining experience is as much about taste – in terms of the balance of sweet, sour and salty – as it is all about the texture of the food.” Richardson continued, “WAH White has the necessary texture and palate weight required to match the oily richness of tuna and salmon. WAH White’s aromatic components also lighten the palate so the wine doesn’t overwhelm delicate sushi and also contributes additional layers of taste.” WAH White exhibits lifted fruit aromas and subtly melded flavours of pear, peach and citrus. The palate is crisp, with softened corners that yield a lovely refreshing yet smooth mouth-feel.
While WAH White was created specifically for connoisseurs of sushi and sashimi, WAH Red was developed to appeal to sophisticated palates choosing wines to accompany traditional Japanese dining staples such as yakitori and grilled Wagyu with miso and tare sauces.
WAH Red was also conceived in response to the rise of wine as part of the dining experience in Japan, in particular, the popularity of red wine. In Japan, 90% of wine is consumed in restaurants and 58% of all wine consumed is red, with the market amongst younger Japanese adults growing year on year. The creation of WAH Red started with master chef Toru Hashimoto visiting the home of Jacob’s Creek in the Barossa. After preparing a number of delicious dishes reflecting his Edostyle Kaiseki tradition, the winemakers worked with Hashimoto-san to refine the WAH Red blend until the perfect wine complement for the cuisine was achieved.
Jacob’s Creek’s Chief Winemaker, Bernard Hickin, describes the new wine: “WAH Red is a delightful blend of vibrant fruit, savoury aromas and soft tannins that perfectly balances the subtle flavours and succulent texture found in Japanese cuisine.”
A special Japanese pairing lunch as it launches its revolutionary JC WAH wines together with two renowned Japanese chefs.
Master chef Mamoru Sugiyama is the fourth generation owner and chef of Ginza Sushi Kou Honten, which has a long and storied history in Japan. The restaurant was first established in 1885 and is known for its Edo-mae sushi, which employs the techniques of traditional sushi artisans used in the days before refrigeration. In this style, raw fish was preserved through treatment via either searing or marinating. “Edo mae” literally translates into “before Edo” and refers to the fish caught in Tokyo Bay. Having first started his sushi apprenticeship at the age of 19 under the tutelage of his father, Sugiyama-san took over the reins of the restaurant in 1990, commencing his love affair of matching wine with sushi.
Master chef Toru Hashimoto is the fifth-generation owner/chef of Kappo Nihonbashi Toyoda restaurant, which opened in 1863 at the end of the samurai period, five years before Japan opened up to the West. Toyoda is renowned for serving the best “kappo ryori” (which is a relaxed version of “kaiseki ryori”, the most refined form of Japanese cuisine). The menu is composed of the freshest produce prepared in seaweed and mushroom based seasonings complemented by wagyu and Japanese eel dishes.
Hashimoto-san is a custodian of traditional Edo cuisine and hospitality known as omotenashi. For many years he has woven wine into his vision of Japanese cuisine and it was this innovative approach that led to the collaboration with Jacob’s Creek on WAH Red.