Saturday, October 03, 2009

5/19/09: Niigata Saké Selections Tasting

While sakés from Akita are getting lot of publicity in NYC, Niigata still carry a lot of clout in the world of saké.

On this date, I was able to sample quite a few sakés at the brewer tasting courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Kobayashi, who run Niigata Saké Selections.

Mr. Saito from Kirinzan Brewery holding Kirinzan Junmai (SMV: +4, Acidity: 1.4, Rice: Gohyakumangoku, Yuki No Sei, Seimaibuai: 60%, Yeast: G9NF), one of my favorites from the tasting. While I am a big fan of their Junmai Daiginjo, the junmai more than held its own. Slightly more brawnier than the subtle and smooth junmai daiginjo, the junmai brings out the essence of the flavor of the rice.

Speaking of the junmai daiginjo, here is their highly distinctive bottle.

Here I am with Mr. Hirashima of Obata Shuzo, which is located on the Sado Island in Japan Sea. He was pouring their fruity daiginjo (SMV: +5, Acidity: 1.1, Rice: Gohyakumangoku, Seimaibuai: 50%, Yeast: #1701), and deep and balanced junmai ginjo muroka genshu (SMV: +3, Acidity: 1.7, Rice: Gohyakumangoku, Seimaibuai: 55%, Yeast: #1701), both from their Ma No Tsuru label.

The four diamond boxes on the family crest of the brewery represents rice, water, man, and "Sado Island terroir." Although tough to find in the NYC area, their sakés are worth seeking out.

It was great to see Mr. Aoki from Aoki Shuzo, who I first met 2.5 years ago. I noted with a tinge of fear in my voice that the Junmai Ginjo seems to be more fruitier compared to 2 years ago. Fear not, this was a result of changing rice from Miyamanishiki to the locally grown Koshi Tanrei, to keep with the brewery's philosophy of using local ingredients.

No, this man is NOT from Niigata (Sakurai-san from Dassai Brewery in Yamaguchi.)

We have couple of attendees representing Akita. Speaking with Mr. Kobayashi is Mr. Kakizaki from Asamai Shuzo, maker of Ama No To label, and saké sommelier Chizuko Niikawa.

Rick Smith of Sakaya, Tim Sullivan of Urbansaké, and Mrs. Kobayashi of Niigata Saké Selections.

Here I am with Mr. and Mrs. Kobayashi, who is holding a bottle of Yukikagé Tokubetsu Junmai (SMV: +4, Acidity 1.3, Rice: Gohyakumangoku, Seimaibuai: 58%, Yeast: S3). For under $30 a bottle, Yukikagé is one of the best valued quintessential Niigata saké, showing gentle and subtle expressions of rice and grain.

For these sakés and ones I couldn't mention, visitNiigata Saké Selections for further details.

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