Tuesday, February 20, 2007

2/17/07: Tasting Notes on Sakura Masamuné "Kinmaré" Junmai Ginjo

Over the weekend, I got to try a saké from a very important brewery in the history of saké making, not to mention a nostalgic place of mine. Several weeks ago, I read an article by a friend of mine on "Shukan NY Seikatsu" paper featuring a tasting notes on Kinmaré. After emailing Mr. Akané, I found out that my journey to taste this bottle was far less than visiting Nada: Mitsuwa in Edgewater, New Jersey.

Sakura Masamuné is credited as the brewery that developed Association #1 yeast and discovered the famed "Miyamizu" flowing from Rokkosan (Mount Rokko) in Nada area of Hyogo Prefecture. Association #1 yeast was the first classified high quality yeast that was said to have virtually gone extinct, only to be rediscovered and reintroduced after 60 years of dormancy. Miyamizu is the mineral-rich hard water that allows vibrant fermentation, resulting in saké with bold flavors and sharp and clean "kiré," or the finish.

Interestingly, the term "kiré" means "cut" in English, and it is used to indicate the sharpness of the finish. A good finish is one of the highly sought out qualities in a good saké, and quite a few breweries that boast their clean and sharp "kiré" incorporate "Masamuné" into their name (Kiku Masamune, Daruma Masamune, Yamagata Masamune, to name a few), in homage of the great swordsmith and the sword bearing his name. In the case of Sakura Masamuné, the founder also recognized that the alternate pronunciation of "Masamuné" in Kanji is "seishu," meaning clear saké.

Sakura Masamuné "Kinmaré" Junmai Ginjo (SMV: +2, Acidity: 1.5, Rice: Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 60%, Yeast: N/A) is made with the king of sakamai (saké rice) Yamadanishiki from highly regarded Yoshikawa area, using the famed Miyamizu water. In short, this is a saké made with the best rice and best water.

The nose had a very pleasant yet restrained sweetness of the rice and grain, followed by a relatively intense flavor that can best described as mildly fruity/grainy. While the traditional- styled flavor by itself was not awe-inspiring, combination with the tactile sensation that evolved in the mouth was simply phenomenal. The flavor initially showed depth and sweetness before slowly evolving to a firmness leading to the finish. The finish was sharp, with lasting umami leaving a hint of thirst that begged to be quenched.

While the bottle of this Junmai Ginjo was on a encroaching into the Daiginjo territory at $42, it is very well worth every penny. I would certainly buy this again.

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