Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2020
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- Thierry Marx Japan, Tokyo; Beige Alain Ducasse, Tokyo; Palace Hotel, Tokyo; L’osier, Tokyo; Hotel Seiyo Ginza, Tokyo
- Tokyo, Japan
- Japan Sommelier Association, Tokyo, Japan; Holmesglen TAFE, Melbourne, Australia
- Japanese, English
Combining rigour with an element of surprise, Chief Sommelier Yuta Yoshida introduces a dynamic approach to wine at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi. Along with bringing an eclectic wine list to the table, he loves to talk with his guests in order to tailor his recommendations. “First I understand the guest’s tastes and preferences, and then maybe suggest a bottle they might not have considered,” he explains. “As sommeliers, we must resist the temptation of simply pushing our favourites.”
Yuta’s carefully curated collection draws on tradition as well as innovation, featuring venerable French and Italian winemakers alongside unsung heroes from the New World. Timing plays a key factor in his selection process: “some wines are best had young, others need years to gain complexity and fully express themselves.” He is especially excited to introduce aficionados to Portugal’s unique grape varietals, which remain relatively unknown in Tokyo.
Another area of focus is Japan itself. Yuta tracks down the best vineyards in the country to reveal the treasures and secrets of the Japanese terroir – from prefectures like Yamanashi and Nagano, to Hokkaido. Guests at Four Seasons can discover these handpicked wines at est, the contemporary French restaurant located on the 39th floor, with a panoramic rooftop terrace overlooking Tokyo.
It was a quirk of fate that brought Yuta into the world of fine wines. At 20 years old, he was working part-time at an Italian restaurant when the resident sommelier saw a spark in him. “I didn’t even drink at the time, so I don’t know how he recognised my potential,” smiles Yuta. Under the tutelage of this first mentor, he learned the fundamentals of wine tasting – and soon knew this was what he was meant to be doing.
Along with earning a diploma from the Japan Sommelier Association, Yuta has spent years refining his talents in Tokyo’s cutting-edge gastronomic landscape. As Assistant Chef Sommelier at a luxury hotel, he expanded his knowledge around wine selection and selling, while at a top-tier French restaurant, he mastered the art of pairing wine with food. Just prior to joining the Four Seasons team, he served as Chief Sommelier at a high-end dining establishment in Ginza, Tokyo.
As Yuta’s reputation in wine circles grew and flourished, the accolades began flowing in. For his exceptional skills as a sommelier, he received the second prize at the New Zealand Wine Growers Sommelier Competition 2018 as well as at the Wines of Portugal – Japanese Sommelier of the Year 2019. He also won third place at the sommelier competition held by Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur in 2019.
Now at est, Yuta performs the delicate task of pairing wines with Chef Guillaume Bracaval’s artful French menus, centred around seasonal Japanese ingredients. “The right wine should enhance the flavour of each dish, not alter or lessen it,” he says. He finds the challenge exhilarating, with the innovative cuisine at est inspiring him to think outside the box. Under his leadership, precision and attention to detail elevate the wine experience at Four Seasons, whether it is the process of decantation or the glassware on the table.
Yuta loves to share his intimate knowledge of winemakers with guests, especially when it comes to the more storied bottles in his collection. An example would be the wines from famed Chablis producer Domaine d’Henri, which boasts a fascinating family history that can be traced back to the 17th century. As Yuta notes, “Wine appreciation is as much an art as a science. From the legends and ancestry, to the viticulture and vocabulary…all these are integral components of the journey.”