Black Chalk makes inroads into Japanese sparkling wine market

06 August, 2020

English sparkling wine producer Black Chalk has announced plans to set up an office in Tokyo as it bids to crack the Japanese market.

Black Chalk director and investor Kenya Matsumoto has set up Frontive Holding, which will distribute the brand in Japan.

A dedicated team will seek to secure listings across the country from a base in Tokyo, and then it will target Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

Matsumoto owns two Mayfair-based Japanese restaurants: Cubé and Kaiseki-specialist, Roketsu, which launched a pop-up at Browns Hotel earlier this year and will open permanently in early 2021.

Japan is one of the world’s largest sparkling wine markets. Black Chalk has already secured listings at several Michelin starred restaurants there, including Kikunoi and Gion Kawakami in Kyoto, Sushi Sho in Tokyo, and Nakashima in Hiroshima, along with listings at high-end retailers Mitsukoshi-Isetan and Hankyu.

Black Chalk’s winemaker and chief executive, Jacob Leadley, said: “We have prioritised Japan as our target export market from the outset.

“There is such a strong synergy between English sparkling wine and Japanese cuisine, and Japan is a market where quality, boutique brands are very highly valued.

“After the last few months when, like others in the English wine industry, we were impacted by Lockdown, this has been a really positive move for us and underlines how important export markets will be, moving forward.”  

Black Chalk has announced a series of expansion plans over the past year.  In September 2019, a £1.5 million investment was secured and it has since opened a tasting room and shop.

In January, Black Chalk announced the acquisition of four vineyard sites spanning 12 hectares in Hampshire’s Test Valley, and it began building a new winery. The winery is now nearing the final stages of construction and it will be ready to receive the 2020 harvest.

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