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Interview: Yumi Tanabe

As one of Japan’s leading wine consultants and specialized wine writers, Yumi Tanabe was invited to form part of this year’s Annual Wines of Chile Awards (AWOCA) judging panel. She has her own wine school teaching throughout different cities in Japan and has written a handful of wine books. Amanda Barnes interviews her to find out what she made of the wine she tried while visiting the country.

What wines have you found interesting while tasting during your visit to Chile?

It’s been amazing, we have tried 615 wines and I am very happy to taste a lot of good red, especially the blends, Carmenere and Syrah. The Syrah is not traditional. All of them are so fantastic.

What Chilean wines are popular in Japan? And what will be in the future?

The Cabernet Sauvignon is [currently] popular in Japan and it has a nickname… ‘Chile Cabe’, it means Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. We are starting to drink more white wine and so Sauvignon Blanc [will be popular], the price is very reasonable and the quality is very high. Sauvignon Blanc is very good for sushi and tempura.

You are also a trained mathematician, is wine a calculated science or an art?

We Japanese are told that wine is a more cultural drink, not just to drink alcohol. You have to have it with good food. I like Mathematics but when I changed to wine it was a lot of fun compared to looking at numbers!

What is the hottest wine trend in Japan right now?

Champagne.

Could Chilean sparkling wine have some success?

Our consumer image is still normally only French champagne. We did taste some sparkling wines here [at AWOCA], only six. If you start making high quality sparkling wine, maybe.

Yumi Tanabe formed part of the judging panel for the Annual Wines of Chile Awards 2013. To see the results of trophy winners click here.

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