Martinborough is home to Kusuda Wines, a vineyard owned by Japanese former diplomat Hiroyuki Kusuda and opened in 2001. Kusuda came to New Zealand to work as an assistant to his friend Kai Schubert, who had been studying winemaking a few years ahead of him at Germany’s Geisenheim. This led him to the tiny town of Martinborough, which has become a gourmet mecca for North Islanders in spite of a population of not much more than 1,000. Bob Campbell, a wine writer and Master of Wine, sent Financial Times writer Jancis Robinson a report of Kusuda’s 2009 harvest. “Kusuda 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 per cent difference, it is enough.'” Here, clearly, is Japanese perfectionism as applied to one of the world’s most pragmatic wine industries. And the resulting wines are truly exceptional.
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