Thursday, April 12, 2007

4/11/07: Back to Sakagura

After the eye-opening revelation in the form of Kokuryu Junmai Ginjo, I had to go back to Sakagura to try it again. (Although I did have ulterior motive as well, and that will become apparent towards the end of this monh.)

My initial plan was to have two masu's worth of Kokuryu and grab few bites. Of course, not everything works out the way they're planned and being that this is Sakagura, that's a good thing.

Before getting down to the business with Kokuryu, I needed to adjust my palate. As it is a season of nama, I decided to try one I have yet to try this year. On that account, I order one of my perennial favorite, Otokoyama Yukishibore (SMV: +4, Acidity: 1.4, Rice: N/A, Seimaibuai: 55%, Yeast: N/A), a lightly cloudy style from Hokkaido. The 2007 version didn't have much of the yogurt-like nose, but it was more minerally with vibrant notes of pineapple and lychee on the palate.

Before I was ready to finish the glass, Mr. Kadoi lines up three glasses on the counter, insisting I try some new sakés (um, OK, if you insist...) They were Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo (SMV: +3, Acidity: 1.3, Rice: Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 50%, Yeast: Brewer's H-1), a saké I had a chance to try at this event. While the flavor was not as intense nor fruity as other junmai daiginjo's, perhaps a function of soft water, the palate was balance of sweet rice and minerals, with a noticeably soft and delicate body. This is another saké with a long umami on the finish, a trait I seem to favor these days.

The second glass was Hakurakusei Junmai Ginjo Namazaké (SMV: +5, Acidity: 1.6, Rice: Omachi, Seimaibuai: 40%, Yeast: N/A), another saké I had a chance to try at EN. This was more mineral driven, with a noticeable mildness that slowly builds up to a long intense finish.

The third of trial servings was a surprising one. In my last visit, I had the Miyasaka Yamahai Junmai Ginjo, and I passed on their "Yawaraka" Junmai (SMV: N/A, Acidity: N/A, Rice: Miyamanishiki, Seimaibuai: 55%, Yeast: N/A). The reason I passed on it was looking at alcohol percentage of 12%, a clear indication of sweetness. With Mr. Kadoi's insistence, I gave it a go. With a nose of mild celery and fruit, I detected no sweetness. Curious at this point, I took a sip, which was soft and went down like water, with faint hint of banana, and believe it or not, finishing dry. But something doesn't add up... low alcohol and dryness? I suspect that the softness and dryness is a result of having higher water content during the dilution process.

With my palate primed, I ordered my Kokuryu. My neighbors to my right, two fellows in the media industry, were curious so Yamaguchi-san gave them a sample. They liked it, and reciprocated by giving me a sip of Okunomatsu Juhachidai Ihei Daiginjo, a top of the line saké polished down to 35% (life is good!).

To balance my equilibrium, I ordered a daily special dish: fire-roasted duck. Yamaguchi-san insisted I try Miyasaka Yamahai Junmai Ginjo, a recommended pairing by Saké Sommelier Momose-san. The pairing was incredible, as I felt that when having this dish, I wouldn't want to drink any other saké than Miyasaka Yamahai Junmai Ginjo, not even Kokuryu.

In the mean time, a young lady to my left was a visitor from San Francisco. She was relatively new to the world of saké, and just finished her glass of Ichinokura Himezen, a light and off-dry style. Talking with her, I recommended she try a sip of Dassai Junmai Ginjo. She was pleasantly surprise that she liked a drier style saké. I think she crossed over, and there is no turning back!

The evening concluded with another masu of Kokuryu... Life is good!

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