Osamu Uchida is the grandson of a farmer and the son of a grocery shop owner in Hiroshima. His father had sold artisanal wines, beers and ciders, and he remembers running his hands over the bottles as a kid. That stuck with him, and with agriculture in his blood, he knew he wanted to do something within the farming realm. He moved to France to figure out what that should be, and found a homestay at a winery. This was many years before the terminology of ‘natural wine’ arose, but Osamu realised that this winemaker’s ancestral practices created something that was beautiful in its simplicity. He was hooked, and began travelling all over to learn more about winemaking.
When it came to setting up his own domaine, everyone told Osamu to avoid Bordeaux - in particular Médoc - because it was too expensive and unwelcoming to foreigners. Instead, they said, he could set up a winery in the south, where land was cheaper and people were friendlier. He ignored that advice, following his heart, and managed to find a vineyard of just 0.6 hectares which he could rent. From those 0.6 hectares he creates meticulous and pure wines with Japanese soul. These are wines that are about minimalism, not grandeur. Osamu compares them to a French baguette: artisanal, but meticulously made.
"If you’re sick you take medication. But what do you do if you don’t want to get sick in the first place? You stay fit: you exercise, eat healthily and maybe take natural supplements. That’s what biodynamics is: it fortifies the vine, but it doesn’t happen suddenly - it’s not as simple as that. It takes five or maybe ten years."
People: Osamu Uchida
Place: Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon
Wines: Click here
Did You Know? Osamu signed the lease to his first vineyard in March 2015, without a house or a cellar. He figured he had plenty of time, but couldn’t quite find the right spot in the right place, at the right price. Right before harvest a house with a garage came up for rent - in one of Chateau Mouton-Rothchild’s vineyards, no less! He signed the lease and rapidly converted the garage into a winery.
From all of his winery experience, Osamu had collected a lot of information that he had mentally filed away.
“I learnt theories and bit by bit tried to collect all of the information to find my own way. Then, it depended on the grapes and their quality. I realised we could do some carbonic fermentation and produce something with lower alcohol. I adapted my vinification to the grapes.”
He bought amphorae and older barrels, as he emphasises he doesn’t seek oaky characteristics and hence avoids new wood. In his first vintage, he did half whole bunch fermentation and half destemmed by hand.