Celebrate Japan: Perfectionism

My ambitions for this blog are modest. As a matter of fact, for the past six months, they have narrowed to writing and publishing one post a month. Consequently, I have roughly forty minutes to write my entry for February 2013.

Nearly two years ago, on March 11, 2011, when the coastal areas of northeastern Japan were dealt a double whammy of tsunami and nuclear disaster, I added a Celebrate Japan category to this blog. There’s much to celebrate about Japan, but only a few things make the cut for this blog – not because I’m picky, but because I leave it up to chance, to see what crosses my radar.

The other day it was Hiroyuki Kusuda of Kusuda Wines in Martinborough, New Zealand. Here is an inspirational tale of the “salary man” who gave it all up to pursue his dream of making wine.

Kusuda Wines

And he does it with a difference! In 2009, Bob Campbell, Master of Wine, described the process on Jancis Robinson’s blog.

‘I visited him over vintage and was witness to the most rigorous grape selection process I have ever seen. A group of Japanese people had flown down at their own expense to pick and sort grapes for Hiro. They were variously introduced as a poet, a wine school head, an owner of many restaurants, a top sommelier etc. Each berry was inspected for any flaw and removed if not perfect. The process seemed to take several minutes per bunch. Hiro invited me to compare the taste of a grape with a tiny scar against a perfect berry. I could detect no difference and suggested he make wine from the reject berries and compare it with the mother wine. He explained “even if there is only 5% difference, it is enough”.’

Being a perfectionist junkie myself, I just love this image of a poet and a sommelier inspecting the grapes.

I found a lovely interview with Kusuda-san on Country File, a New Zealand radio programme. The whole interview is about 25 minutes, so pour a glass, sit back and enjoy. I particularly like the way he giggles. That’s the giggle of a happy man!

Depending on your browser, the audio file may play right here on the blog, or it may download as an mp3 file. To listen on the Country Life website, click here.

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