Wednesday, December 27, 2006

11/12: B.Y.O.S. Tasting at the Urban Saké Headquarters

Just two days later, I found myself at the Urban Saké Headquarters, participating in a "BYOS" ~ Bring Your Own Saké ~ event. The main idea was to encourage bringing a bottle that can be served chilled and warm. For this event, Nell from Aubirya Kinnosuké, Keiko Sato from World Saké Importers, and Urban Saké friends Chao-I, Brad, July, and Scott were the lucky participants.

Even luckier for us, Tim was making chicken yaki-tori with Nell's help. The menu for the night also included seaweed salad, and fresh shrimp spring rolls. All the dishes were great, even if the spring rolls contained cilantro...

To kick off the event, Tim suggested we have a toast. He unvailed Gassan "Izumo" Junmai Ginjo (SMV: 3.5, Acidity: N/A, Rice: Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 50%, Yeast: N/A) from Shimane Prefecture, a bottle he received from the brewers during the Joy of Saké event. This was a fantastic bottle, featuring fruity melon and tropical fruits flavors followed by harmonizing sweetness and bitterness common in "Junmai" production style, evolving to a clean and dry finish.

By contrast, Chao-I's Junmai Ginjo was riper and fruitier. His contribution was Mutsu Hassen Junmai Ginjo (SMV: +3, Acidity: 1.3, Rice: Miyamanishiki , Seimaibuai: 50%, Yeast: Assoc #10)from Aomori Prefecture , that featured fruity pineapple and lychee on the nose with ripe pineapple and intense strawberries on the palate. The finish was clean and dry with good depth, but the juiciness on the palate combined with the lack of sweet/bitter balance made it seem slightly sweeter.

Nell's contribution was one of those sakés that's destined to be heated, in the form of Matsu No I Tokubetsu Honjōzō (SMV: +5. Acidity: 1.3, Rice: Gohyakumangoku, Seimaibuai: 58%, Yeast: Assoc #10) with a balance of earthy flavors, minerals, and importantly, good depth to maintain the structure of saké even after it was heated. This was served at 104F, as Tim used a digital thermometer to keep track of the temperature.

Next, we moved on to my choice, the Shichi Hon Yari Junmai (SMV: +4, Acidity: 1.5, Rice: Tamazakae, Seimaibuai: 60%, Yeast: N/A)from Shiga Prefecture. Although my general preference for saké is geared toward complex, mildly fruity, and very clean, I adore this earthy-style saké. It is complex and layered, with flavors of steamed rice, mushrooms, nuts, cocoa complemented by lighter body and understated crispness. This is fantastic warmed or chilled, and a bottle I just had to bring.

Brad brought Setsugetsubijin Junmai Ginjo (Data N/A) from Oita Prefecture in Kyushu Island, area famous for Shochu. Interestingly, this turned out to be an earthier style for a Junmai Ginjo, as it featured flavors of steamed rice and light fruits with a very mineral driven finish. Although we didn't warm it, looking back, I feel that this bottle has the requisite characters (depth, minerality) to make it a good candidate to be warmed.

Julie brough Tenranzan "Saké Roman" Junmai Nigori (SMV: +2, Acidity: 1.4, Rice: Miyamanishiki, Seimaibuai: 65%, Yeast: N/A) from Saitama Prefecture, which was a pretty chunky style of Nigori, but with good balance and milder palate than the body would suggest.

The last bottle was from Keiko-san, Kamoizumi "Shusen" Junmai Ginjo (SMV: +1, Acidity: 1.6, Rice: Hiroshima Hattan, Seimaibuai: 58%, Yeast: N/A). Commonly referred to as "Three Dots" based on the Kanji character on the bottle, this saké from Hiroshima is famous for its distinct flavors of mushroom and mildly sweet earthiness, which takes on a totally round flavor when served warm.

Right around this time, Scott showed up with Choux Factory's choux creams, to take a quick break from tasting. Naturally, with Scott now in the fold, it would be extremely rude not to revisit the sakés... a perfect end to a picture perfect evening!

No comments: