Thursday, December 21, 2006

11/10/06: Sake Double- Header

When it rains, it pours, and sometimes, that's a good thing. Like today, I had two saké events to attend, one where I was a presenter and second where I was an attendee. Not surprisingly, there were lot of pouring to be done.

5:00 pm~ 6:30 pm: Saké Tasting at Daily Candy

I was asked by friendly staffs from Daily Candy to help with a sushi and saké event for their clients. With the goal being educating about 25 attendees on sakés, I recommended the following 6 bottles covering different grades and production methods:

Aramasa Junmai: From Akita. Dryness: +3, Acidity: 1.6. Mild nuts, grain. Medium- bodied with clean notes of steamed rice and grain. Refined, light finish. Pair with lighter meats, tempura. Serve warmed or chilled. (Pic, right)

Bandai Junmai: From Fukushima. Aged one year in tank, resulting in a slightly oxidized style. Full- bodied with dried fruits and nuts on the nose, followed by dried fruits and hints of soy sauce on the palate. Earthy dishes, red meat. Serve warmed or chilled. (No picture available)

Oni No Shitaburui Honjozo: From Tottori. +12, 1.4. Some fruit, but mostly grain. Medium- bodied, very dry, tastes like saké. Can be served warmed or chilled. (Pic of label, left)

Shirayuki Shiboritate: From Nada (Hyogo). +3, 1.2. Pasteurized once, with added alcohol. Made once a year. Light, easy drinking type. Good with stewed dishes, bouillabase. Serve chilled or warmed. (Pic N/A)

Daishichi Kimoto Honjozo: From Fukushima. +1, 1.4. Made in a labor-intensive Kimoto method to enhance fermentation (=richer flavor.) Mildly fruity nose followed by refreshing notes of mild fruit and grain on the palate. Pair with fish, lighter meats, or well-seasoned vegetables. Best served chilled but can be warmed. (Pic, right)

Kaori Junmai Ginjo: From Yamaguchi. +3, 1.5. Flavors of sharp, fruity, and juicy Muscat grapes. Medium-bodied with medium dry finish. Pair with fish, lighter meats, well-seasoned vegetables, creamy sauces, and tomato sauces. Serve chilled only (Pic, left).

Sawanotsuru Zuicho Junmai Daiginjo: From Hyogo. +0, 1.7. Richer style of daiginjo. This particular one has a very low fruit in the palate, instead featuring sweetness of the rice. Versatile pairing with food, ideal with appetizers. Serve chilled. (Pic, right)

The event was basic explanation and Q & A between sips of saké and bites of sushi. The attendees were later forwarded the exact notes above, as well as list of resources for further studies. Unfortunately, my lens got stuck after I dropped my camera this morning, so I have no photographical evidence I was there!

It would've been really cool to stick around longer, but I had to attend the inaugural...

7:00 pm~9:00 pm: Akita Saké Connoisseur's Club Tasting Event

I was informed of this event through Yamamoto-san, one of the founders of this Club. The event was held at the World Sake Importers' NY Office. Among the attendees were Chizuko-san from Sakagura and Natsuyo Lipshutz, both co-founders of the club, as well as Keiko and Asami-san from WSI, Henry Sidel from Joto Saké, Tim Sullivan, and Lefty.
There were officially 12 sakés on the menu, plus Yamamoto-san opened up one bottle for founders and friends, after most of the attendees left. The list is as follows:

Akitabaré "Sui Raku Ten" Daiginjo, Shimizu No Mai Junmai Daiginjo, Yuki No Bosha Junmai Daiginjo, Ama No To "Hyosho Usu Nigori", Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo, Tenju "Chōkaisan" Junmai Ginjo, Hinomaru "Benimansaku" Junmai Ginjo, Dewatsuru "Matsukura" Junmai Ginjo, Hideyoshi "Aki No Ta" Junmai Ginjo, Naba Honten "Jizaké Monogatari" Yamahai Junmai Ginjo, Kariho "Namahagé" Junmai, and Akitabaré "Koshiki Junzukuri" Junmai.

Since I've covered some sakés extensively in the past (such as Yuki No Bosha), here are three sakés that made a big impression on me:

* Tenju "Chōkaisan" Junmai Ginjo (SMV: 0~+2. Acidity: 1.3~1.5, Rice: Miyamanishiki, Seimaibuai: 50%, Yeast: ND-4). With the polishing ratio that qualifies as a Daiginjo, "Chōkaisan" was the best of the new sakés I've tried. Very fruity yet light and elegant, with umami towards the finish, this saké combined elegance with substance.

* Akitabaré "Sui Raku Ten" Daiginjo (SMV: +5, Acidity: 1.3, Rice: Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 45%, Yeast: Assoc #9). Given to me as a gift, this was the bottle that put saké on my radar screen several years ago. Back then, I remembered this saké as being fruity and clean. This time, the impression was bit different, as I noted balanced fruitiness and grain, steamed rice, and umami. Since it was aged for 5 years in a chilled temperature, it displayed the overall roundness.

* The third bottle was the Sasabune Fukuromachi Daiginjo (Data N/A), which was the "13th bottle." This had a very fruity nose with deep flavors of pineapple and melon, and a fantasic clean and dry finish.

The inaugural event was highly attended and successful, and future prospects looks very promising for ASCC.

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