Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
My dad built a vineyard in China in 2004, which was my slightly unusual introduction to wine. When I lived in Tokyo, it was only a 3-hour flight away so I would go and visit my dad at the vineyard and he would talk me through which varieties had been planted, how the weather had been affecting this year’s vintage, and showed me the equipment used to make the wines.
Tell us about your wine list at Killiecrankie House
Like our food in the restaurant, which is deliberately fun and exploratory, the wine list has also been created to introduce guests to wines they haven’t tried before. Therefore, our wine list is split into 'The Classics' and 'Off The Beaten Track', in which our guests will find wines from unusual grape varieties or unusual regions. Being half Japanese, I have insisted that we also have some fantastic sakes on the list.
Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?
Not really… but I guess there’s still time!
Name your top three restaurant wine lists
The Fat Duck in Bray, L’Enclume in Cartmel and Brat in London.
Who do you most respect in the wine world?
Sandia Chang (the co-founder and sommelier at Kitchen Table and Bubble Shop).
What’s the most interesting wine you’ve ever come across?
As part of our pairing we’re currently serving a wonderful and peculiar sake (rice wine), Shirayuki Edo Genroku 'Genroku Redux' junmai. The brewery is centuries old and the sake is made from a recipe from their archives which dates back to 1702. They’re using natural yeasts and wooden barrels for fermentation, which is unusual for sake. The liquid is a gorgeous dark amber colour and has flavours of Marmite, pedro ximénez and walnuts. It pairs wonderfully with our daikon and fermented garlic dish.
What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Mineral, fresh and zesty.
What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment (and why)…
Loveblock ‘Tee’ Sauvignon Blanc (from New Zealand). The SO2 is replaced by green tea powder acting as the anti-oxidant, which gives it quite a different expression from most Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs. To me it tastes of baked quince.
What is your ultimate food and drink match?
Co-op salt and vinegar crisps and Champagne.
Old World or New World?
What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
When a sommelier doesn’t explain how the paired wine matches the food.
Who is your favourite producer at the moment and why?
Walter Massa in Piemonte. Not only did he save the Timorasso grape from extinction, but he has created such sophisticated wines showcasing the variety.
As a sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers?
What’s the Chinese wine like?
Which wine producing region/country is currently underrated at the moment and why?
China - of course I’m biased, but it’s such a huge country with vastly different terroirs, and with ever increasing investment, is starting to produce some really interesting wines.
It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
1990 Chateau d’Yquem. I tasted one recently and would be sad to die without tasting it again. And if I'm about to die, let's make it a magnum...