Sunday, July 06, 2008

6/17/08: Tasting Notes on Hiroki, Naraman

Is it ever possible, when going to Sakagura, that you leave having tasted just one saké? I don't think so.

Here are tasting notes on two standout sakés for different reasons:

Hiroki Tokubesu Junmai (SMV: +3, Acidity: 1.6, Rice: Yamadanishiki/ Gohyakumangoku, Seimaibuai: 50%/ 55%, Alcohol: 16/8%). I've tried this Fukushima- brewed saké on two other occasions in the past. In September, 2006 I had a very high opinion of the bottle. Six months later, not so much. Was third time a charm?

Maybe it was the Juyondai I tasted before, but my opinion of Hiroki was more along the less than thrilling 2007 version than the outstanding 2006. (You can be assured that I did attempt to cleanse my palate several times.)

With the aroma of celery and focused flavors of koji yeast, it lacked the fruitiness typically expected out of Yamadanishiki rice (or their earlier incarnation, for that matter.) The depth and umami of Gohyakumangoku is evident. The profile of this saké suggests that it may be best served warm.

I've now tasted Hiroki three different times, with three different results...


Naraman Junmai Muroka Bin-hiiré (SMV: +3, Acidity: 1.3, Rice: Gohyakumangoku, Seimaibuai: 55%, Alcohol: 16.5%). With "Nara" as part of the name, this saké is of course from the prefecture of... Fukushima?!

Anyways, this saké is made in the unfiltered and pasteurized style. Right from the get go, this bottle felt like an "old school" saké, from the design of the label to the gentle aroma of steamed rice. The high polishing ratio translates to smoothness, and earthy koji-driven minerals on the palate provides depth and structure. While this saké flexes its muscle when served chilled, flavors round out nicely when served slightly warm.

This just may be a nice saké to revisit in the fall.

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