The Telegraph has reported on a newly developed grape variety which if it is not the biggest in the world – is definitely the most expensive. The tomato coloured Ruby Roman grapes took 14 years to develop in a state led project. A Japanese hotel manager paid £475 for the bunch of grapes at an auction in Japan’s north western Ishikawa Prefecture. The bunch had 35 ping pong ball sized grapes on it which worked out about £14 per grape! The bunch of grapes weighed 1.5 lbs and some of the grapes were 3 centimetres (1.2 inches) in diametre.
The average price for the Ruby Roman grapes at the auction was about £131 a bunch. Local farmers are hoping to sell 1,500 bunches, or 1 ton, of the grapes by mid September. Fruit in Japan is an expensive item and the first fruits of the season are considered to be luxury gifts for which top prices are paid in order to gain prestige of owning the very first ones of the year.
Square shaped watermelons were all the rage a few years ago and a large black watermelon fetched £3,265 last week – making it the most expensive watermelon ever sold in the country. The 17lb premium Densuke watermelon, one of only 65 from the first harvest of the season, was purchased by a marine products dealer who said he wanted to support local agriculture. This follows another jaw-dropping auction in May where a pair of Yubari cantaloupe melons sold for a record 2.5 million yen (£12,578).
A pair of Japanese mangoes known as “Eggs of the Sun” (for their fiery colour and juicy flesh) sold for a record £1,070 at auction. Unusual fruits are very popular – the Mangosteen is much sought after (Queen Victoria was once reputed to have offered a reward to the person who could bring her this fabled fruit). Mangosteens are originally from Thailand, but they’re difficult to export from the region because they are so perishable.
The Ruby Roman grapes prices have exceeded those for the most popular premium variety, Muscat of Alexandria, which sell for as much as £48 a bunch at Tokyo’s Ota fruit market, the country’s largest, according to Koichi Kato, an official at fruit wholesaler Tokyo Seika Co.
The hotel which purchased the grapes was the Kagaya, a renowned inn in the centre of the prefecture. The Kagaya’s chief cook Fujio Uko said that:
“We served them last evening to our repeat customers who were staying in top-notch rooms . . We wanted to delight our customers and also wanted to wish producers good luck on the début day.”
A pair of grapes were served to each customer and the grapes were reported to be not excessively sweet but fresh, delicious and juicy.
The only other huge bunch of grapes that I can think of comes from the Bible, Numbers 13 v23 when scouts sent out to the Valley of Eshcol returned to Moses with clusters of grapes on a vine branch so large that 2 men had to carry them on a pole between them.
Do you know of any other large grape varieties?
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