The Mercian Brand, the authentic wine from Japan, was born in 1949.
Its name is a coinage of merci, the French word for “thank you,” and an, meaning “person.” Initially its labels featured a trademark with four small designs – the sun, a mountain, a river, and grapes – as an expression of gratitude to nature.
Sweeter wines were the mainstream in Japan in the 1940s and 50s, so the process of transition for domestically-produced wines into the authentic dry wines we know today took a variety of steps.
One of these was the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
A string of modern hotels were built to welcome visitors to the Olympics, and patrons took to consuming wine with Western-style dishes at restaurants. To better fit the settings of luxury hotels and restaurants, Mercian adopted a rare 3-label design that divided the grape harvest year and variety, typically contained within one label, into three separate labels for a more appealing look.
Then in 1966, Mercian 1962 (White) won Japan’s first gold prize in an international wine competition. This marks the moment when the world acknowledged the quality of Japanese wines, and the era in which Mercian’s passion for winemaking finally came to fruition.
The subsequent boom in overseas travel, the Expo ’70 in Osaka, and other opportunities for interaction with the rest of the world deepened the Japanese relationship with wine.
Outside of the Katsunuma region, Mercian turned its attention to cultivating the merlot variety of European grapes grown in Kikyogahara in Nagano Prefecture. Its 1989 release of Château Mercian Shinshu Kikyogahara Merlot 1985 was awarded the Grand Gold Medal at the International Competition of Wine in Ljubljana, sending another signal to the world about the exceptional quality of Japanese wine. The brand is still beloved to this day as Château Mercian Kikyogahara Merlot, although originally Mercian had made a point of including the Shinshu name to emphasize that the grapes had been cultivated there.
Koshu is a wine grape variety native to Japan. Once known for its relatively unassuming aroma and unexceptional personality, Koshu wine was reborn in 1983 through a trial of the Sur lie aging process, which had been used in the Loire region of France. The result was a crisp, dry wine with a much fuller flavor – a giant leap to authentic wine that some say was revolutionary. Mercian shared the Sur lie method with other wineries in Katsunuma in the spirit of revitalizing winemaking in the region. Today, Sur lie is the leading winemaking method for Koshu wine.
© 2007 Kirin Holdings Company, Limited.