Japanese wine with a crisp and clean taste made by Sasaichi Sake Brewery, a Yamanashi sake brewer with an over 350-year history

OLIFANT is a Japanese wine brand made by Sasaichi Sake Brewery, a Japanese sake brewer in business for over 350 years. This product was created by combining the knowledge Sasaichi acquired through its sake brewing and the tradition of winemaking, which has a history in Yamanashi. The name was chosen by Yutaka Tatsuno, a professor and French literature scholar at Tokyo Teikoku University (now The University of Tokyo), and it is the French name for the horn whistle of the Ancient Roman god of wine, Bacchus. The emblem design was created by Hideo Hagiwara, a world-famous woodblock print artist who was born in Yamanashi Prefecture. At Sasaichi Sake Brewery, the brewer who produces OLIFANT, brewing is considered a divine process, and this feeling is imbued into the name of this wine brand as well, which has been on the market since 1953. Yamanashi actually has a history of winemaking that goes back more than 100 years. The philosophy of OLIFANT is to draw out the distinctive character of fruit cultivated in Yamanashi to the fullest, maximizing its potential and imbuing every bottle with deeply-rooted Yamanashi terroir.

History of OLIFANT

The brand was established in 1953 in Yamanashi Prefecture, the birthplace of Japanese wine. In the past, historical figures such Sessue Hayakawa and Keishichi Ishiguro loved OLIFANT wine. OLIFANT wine has mainly been produced using native grape cultivars from the Koshu region. In recent years, the number of company fields and contracted fields has been increased, and European cultivars are also being raised at the company farm in the fertile lands of Chuo, Yamanashi. The goal is to maximize the potential of the grapes and achieve a superb table wine that pairs well with a wide range of cuisine, with a crisp and gentle flavor and depth rooted in Japan’s climate, topography, and culture.

Gardens and fruit

Sasaichi Sake Brewery conducts all the steps of the winemaking process from grape cultivation to fermentation in-house. The land used to cultivate grapes for OLIFANT is located in the south of the Kofu basin, which has a relatively high elevation. The location gets ample sunlight and the air circulates well with low stagnation due to the westerlies coming from the mountains of the Southern Alps and Yatsugatake. Thanks to this ample sunlight, healthy grapes can be cultivated with low rates of disease. Lotus flowers bloom in the fields which later decompose and add nutrients to the soil, creating a rich environment for raising the grapes used to make OLIFANT.

The brewers extract beautiful juice from these carefully-cultivated grapes with a high level of transparency. For the cultivars used to make white wine (such as Koshu and Chardonnay), tartness is important, and ensuring stable mineral content improves the quality of the wine, so the soil is managed thoroughly. For the cultivars used to make red wine (such as Muscat, Bailey A, and Shiraz), careful weeding is carried out to ensure each grape gets sufficient sunlight to produce ample anthocyanins. This careful and clean cultivation produces gentle and beautiful grapes, and these qualities show through in the distinctive taste of the finished OLIFANT. With an eye on the distinctive features of each cultivar raised in Yamanashi, we continue to grow each grape with care.

Manufacturing and commitment

OLIFANT is manufactured by Sasaichi Sake Brewery, a brewer with a long history in sake brewing. Sasaichi has been making OLIFANT since 1953, utilization the techniques developed through long years of sake brewing to create OLIFANT, a unique expression of wine only possible for a sake brewer which is also a winery. Thorough attention to cleanliness is one example. Beautiful wine can only be made in beautiful places. This not only elevates characteristics of quality such as the taste but also enables customers to enjoy the wine safely with peace of mind, and it is a critical and fundamental element of the process.

In addition, the process of making OLIFANT captures the fundamentals of related topics such as grape genetic engineering, grape cultivation science, wine brewing science, and wine management science, drawing out the characteristics of grapes to the fullest through the power of fermentation and careful management of the minute details of winemaking. OLIFANT uses high-quality cultivation fields, soil improvement, cultivation management, production management, and storage management, with all of these operations carried out in-house without any division of labor. This focus on comprehensive winemaking is part Sasaichi’s commitment for OLIFANT.

The appeal of OLIFANT

OLIFANT is proposed as an ideal wine for pairing with delicately-flavored Japanese dishes. We consider drawing out the characteristics of our Yamanashi grapes to their full potential to be the ideal way to make the ultimate wine to match Japan’s food culture. As an expression of the terroir of Yamanashi, OLIFANT aims to be a clean and gentle wine with depth, providing a graceful flavor to meals. Through the various brewing ideals inherited by Sasaichi over its long years in business, OLIFANT has won numerous wine competition awards, such as the Japan Wine Competition Gold Medal.

Brewing methods

Since the establishment of the brand in 1953, we have focused on the concept of terroir, continuously working to create wine which maximizes the potential of local Yamanashi grapes. In addition to Koshu, Muscat, and Bailey A, we are also working with European cultivars such as Chardonnay, Merlot, and Shiraz now. In the fermentation stage, we have been able to apply our knowledge and techniques from Japanese sake brewing to winemaking directly. The traditional yamahai brewing method of Japanese sake relies on the action of lactic acid bacteria, and there are theoretical aspects of it which apply to winemaking as well. Japanese sake is made by fermenting grains, and wine is made by fermenting fruit. The common element that both are brewed alcoholic beverages is the ultimate common denominator between them, and we feel that this fact expands the potential of OLIFANT.