Wednesday, February 20, 2008

2/19/08: Tasting Notes on 5 Saké Selections

Generally, post-holiday season is very slow in the U.S. saké industry; now may be an opportune time to post some tasting notes.

The following 5 saké selections were tasted at or purchased from Sakaya during January.


Midorigawa Honjozo (SMV: +4, Acidity: 1.6, Seimaibuai: 60%) from Niigata. I chose this bottle because of the nice looking label. For a honjozo, it is bit pricey at #38, but it's one of those where I felt I had to try. Notes: Clean, subtle hints of creamy rice. Clean, grain, pure. Some sense of sweetness, with long finish rich in umami. It paired very well with the hand-made linguini with mushrooms.

Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo (SMV: +5, Acidity: 1.2, Rice: Miyamanishiki, Seimaibuai: 50%, Yeast: Assoc. #9) from Niigata. The old reliable, but it's been a while since I came across the Junmai Ginjo. This, along with the following 3 selections, was tasted at Sakaya in-store tasting. Notes: Subtle notes of bamboo. Light fruit, clean, with complementary rice/grain. Dry. My favorite Hakkaisan.

Chiyonosono "Kumamoto Shinriki" Junmai Ginjo (SMV: +4, Acidity: 1.7, Rice: Shinriki, Seimaibuai: 55%, Yeast: Kumamoto) from Kumamoto. The label is striking with its bold red type, and for those who read Japanese, very masculine. Two things stand out about this saké: 1) it's from Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu, area known for their shochu, and 2) it is made using Shinriki rice, a varietal I have yet to try. Notes: Mild, creamy, deep umami. Clean notes of grain/rice. It was not as heavy as I had anticipated, but well-balanced with sense of transparency that I enjoyed.

Tedorigawa "Iki Na Onna" Daiginjo (SMV: +4, Acidity: 1.2, Rice: Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 40%, Yeast: Kanazawa) from Ishikawa. I find Tedorigawa style to be fascinating. Based on my limited experience of their selections, I cannot pinpoint their style. The Yamahai Daiginjo is earthy and complex with hints of cheese, and Kaleidoscope" Shizuku Daiginjo is intensely fruity. With such wide spectrum, it was very safe to assume that "Iki Na Onna" would fall somewhere in between. Notes: Mildly sweet, deep. Clean, notes of grain. I found it almost shockingly neutral.

Sudo Honké "Sato No Homaré" White Label Junmai Ginjo (SMV: , Acidity: , Rice: Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 50%, Yeast: Sudo) from Ibaraki. Lastly. I was finally able to taste the elusive Yamadanishiki version of Sato No Homaré. I am a huge fan of the Yamadaho version with its more traditional style and umami-laden finish (note: Yamadaho version has black label with gold lettering), so I had to try the Yamadanishiki. Notes: Highly aromatic and expressive. My first impression was that it was very Kakunko-like. Expressive pineapple/strawberry, nice umami finish. Very interesting demonstration of the difference in rice. Incidentally, this bottle retails for about $55, which is $20 more than the "Black Label."

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