Archive for August, 2007

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 9-3: Mononofu No Sato

August 26, 2007

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This is the last posting before I go to France (I will be back on the 7th of September) and tis article is a bit special.
“Mononofu no Sato” is brew prepared by Fujinishiki Brewery in Shibakawa Cho for a group of sake lovers in Susono City, at the bottom of Mount Fuji. As there is no brewery in Susono City, the Association for the Promotion of Sake in Susono City asked Fujinishiki to produce sake made exclusively with rice grown in Susono and water collecte in the same city. This year’s particular batch was made in July.

Name: “Susono no Meishu”, Mononofu no Sato
Junmai Ginjo
Dryness: +4
Acidity: 1.4

Clarity: very clear

Colour: Golden tinge

Aroma: light/discreet/Almonds-Plums

Body: light, very easy to drink

Taste: Tingle typical of junmai. Almonds/Plums/Bitter chocolate
light and easy to drink.

Overall: Practically no acidity. Soft, almost sweet. Best drunk on its own. Feminine in cahracter.


Shidaizumi Brewery

August 22, 2007

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Friday, August 17th was another blistering day and frankly speaking I harboured some reservations on the wisdom to visit a sake brewery in midsummer. But I had decided a long time ago to try and visit breweries at all times of the year to catch the real life of a “kura” (brewery) and its “kurabito” (brewery people).
The first impression that struck me as we arrived in my good Friend Mr. Nagashima’s car was the relative cool temperature pervading the whole area in front of the brewery. It is located just along the man-made elevated banks abutting the Setogawa River. These banks are dotted all the way with centenarian cherry trees offering welcome shade and even sheltering beehives.
I momentarily abandooned my companions to have a peek at the river before calling on the Brewery.
The waters of Setogawa River (which flows unimpeded till the sea in yaizu City) were so clear and clean that I realized why the water used by that particular brewery are famed to be the sweetest in the Prefecture. Birds, insects and fish could be seen everywhere in a capsule of natural environment so enticing that I promised myself to come again end of next April when the cherry trees are in full bloom and the new sake will be ready for tasting!
Shidaizumi Brewery was founded in 1884 under the name of Rajyomasamune Brewery and the present buildings, although restored, date back to more than a hundred years when the village lying by the Mukai Mountains bore the name of Inaba.
The fourth generation, Mr. Yujiro Mochizuki (39) explained that this particular area, not being targetted during WWII, had to stop making sake because of rice shortages. Consequently all the kura (there were more than 25 in Shida Gun, then) were requisitioned by the Army to serve as depots. But when the Japanese government subsidized the Sake industry in 1953, most breweries had to rebuild, partially or entirely, their premises due to oil pollution caused by weaponry and machinery kept there for so long.
Shidaizumi shows a well-balanced combination of traditional and modern thinking and concept.
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I was particularly interested in the bottling process which makes use of a fairly complicated state-of-the-art Italian wine bottling system.

Shidaizumi shows a lot of professionalism and research as demonstrated by the variety of rice (goyakumangoku from Toyama, yamadanishiki from Hyogo, Yamadanishiki from Shizuoka, Hyahan 35 go from Hiroshima) and yeasts (Shizuoka No-2, Shizuoka NEW-5, Shizuoka HD-1 and Association No 9) employed.
Interestingly enough their production of “futsushu” (normal sake) amounts to 30%. Mr. Mochizuki explained this amount was needed for local consumption. But I discovered that their “futsushu” was made with rice milled down at least down to an extravagant 65%, I declared (impertinetly, I must admit) it was about time to create a whole new classification only for “futsushu”!
Once the technical visits and explanations done with, Mr Mochizuki offered us to taste some of their new brews including two not on the market until October:
An extravagant junmai made from Asahina Yamada Nishiki rice concocted by their toji/master brewer, Mr. Yukio Tanaka of the Nanbu School, and a Umeshu made with the same sake!
A beauty (two, actually!)!
Melinda and Etsuko, be patient! You will get them in October!
Well, that visit is only a start. Look forward to the next reviews!

Shidaizumi Brewery
426-0133Fujieda City, Miyahara, 423-22-1
Tel.: 054-6390010
Fax: 054-6390777

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 20/1: Isojiman-Aiyama Daiginjo 50

August 16, 2007

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Isojiman Brewery (Yaizu city) is a Brewery proud of its clean image and always keen to advertise it. I must admit they do make an effort on presentation, too, as typified by this Italian wine style bottle which makesthe brew the more attractive for it.
Isojiman makes use of a local rice called Aiyama of the same name of nearby mountains.
Rice is milled down to 50%

Clarity: very clear

Colour: Almost transparent

Aroma: Light and soft/Feminine/Fruity/green grapes/green muscat/green apple

Body: light & velvety

Taste: complex, feminine, soft. Sweet green grapes. Sweetness lingering.
Welcome acidity revealed upon eating.

Overall: A complex pleasant sake
Tends to fluctuate whether you eat or not and to surprise along a meal.
One might enjoy it on its own while another will find it attractive with food instead of wine.
Definitely worth a try, although gentlemen might find it a bit too feminine.

Susono City Mononofu Hometown Sake Association

August 15, 2007

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On Tuesday August 14th, I took the train to Susono City to pay a visit to Mr. Koji Emori, a gentleman who has relentlessly fought for the promotion of local sake in the Prefecture for the last 15 years.
On the way to his liquor shop, Mishimaya, I had plenty of time to notice the great clear water flowing directly from nearby Mount Fuji, a rare treat on another scalding hot day.
I kept wondering why this region did not boast so many breweries with all that pure water on hand. I found out later that this particular area’s economy was based on agricultural products and soy sauce producing before WWII, which explains things.
Mishimaya is a very busy liquor shop with a wine annex run bt the whole family of two brothers and two sisters and parents. In spite of the lack of space I was offered a very warm welcome and talk started right away as if we had known each other for ages.
Mr. Emori and the owners of 12 other liquor retailers formed their association in April 1992 and have since then worked hard on promoting local sake through regular events and the creation of special brands for the city:
Mononofu no Sato was first brewed with the help of Fujinishiki Brewery (Shibakawa Cho) and put on sale on October 1st, 1996.
Then Susono was brewed and sold on November 23rd, 1997 with the help of Hana no Mai Brewery (Hamamatsu City).
Both sake come in various brews, shiboritate, junmai, etc.
Both sake are predominantly made from Goyakumangoku rice grown around Susono City, making it a truly local sake, if not brewed by a non-existent local Brewery.

Mr. Emori and his friends also contributed to the creation and promotion of local Strawberry Wine and Sakura Wine.
Another Tour de force was their role into creating a local shochu exclusively made with local rice and green tea called Fuji San Susono 3776 on July 14th, 2007 with the help of Fujinishiki Brewery (Shibakawa Cho)!

Since I acquired a sample of each of the three Susono creations, expect a tasting report soon!

Mishimaya Liquor Shop also sells sake by Masu-Ichi (Shizuoka-City), Sugii (Fujieda City), Fuji-takasago (Fujinomiya City), Fujinishiki (Shibakawa Cho), Doi (Kakegawa City) and Hana No Mai (Hamamatsu City) Breweries.
For people not able to travel to Susono or Numazu Cities, look at Mishimaya Liquor Shop’s Homepage (Japanese) or contact:

Mr. Koji Emori
Mishimaya Liquor Shop
410-1118 Shizuoka Prefecture, Susono City, Sano, 1489-3
Tel.: 055-9931553
Fax: 055-9931554

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 2-2: Yoshiya Brewery

August 13, 2007

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Yamahai Sake is not an easy brew to achieve. Since I have developed a taste for it, it is not easy to find any in Shizuoka Prefecture!
Luckily enough, Mr. Nakashima, toji of Yoshiya/Chuumasa Brewery (Shizuoka City) came up with a real beauty which has just arrived on the shelves!

Umi Fune no Yamahai is a Junmai produced with natural lactic acid bacilli to commemorate Meiji History events when a lot of people crossed the seas.

This particular bottle was produced in March 2007.
Rice was milled to 55%
Dryness: +5
Acidity: 1.5

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: discreet, very light for a yamahai. Summer vegetables/green vegetables

Body: velvety

Taste: surprisingly complex, but not overpowering. Edamame/zucchini/summer vegetables/bitter chocolate/loquat/plum
Light welcome acidity. Lingers on the palate as if it wishes to escape.
Dry. Turns sharpish after a few sips.
Turns sweet out of the blue upon eating fruit with it.

Overall: Would make a great aperitif, but can cope with any food. Elegant, adult. Will accompany strong food without undue interference.

Koizumi Saketen

August 11, 2007

Please check Shizuoka Gourmet Blog for all the gastronomy in Shizuoka Prefecture!



I just cannot count how many times I have cycled past Mr. Katsunori Koizumi Kiquor Shop as it is along the way to the Cricket Ground I have to go to at least 3 times a week!
I just make a point stoppeng there only when Mr. Koizumi is (rarely) free. Otherwise I would be better off leaving my own chair there as once you have got the gentleman talking, he just would not stop!
He is a great mine of information and local lore on anything realted with local sake, shochu, beer and liqueurs as his family used to run the Koizumi Honkei Brewery in Okitsu, Shimizu Ku until it got absorbed by Sanwa (Garyubai) Brewery in Shimizu!
He also organizes his own Shizuoka Sake Festival in Shizuoka City, grouping more than a dozen local Breweries. The next one will take place on the 10th of October.
As a proof of his kowledge he revealed me a little secret: A group in Mishima has just convinced Sugii Brewery in Fujieda City to create a “imo” shochu for them next May 2008!

As for local (he has many from all over japan on sale!) sake, he sells brews from:
Sugii (Sugunishiki), Hatsukame, Doi (Kaiun), Morimoto (Sayogorom), Fuji-Takasago, Yoshiya (Chumasa), Kumpai, Oomura (Wakatake), Tenjigura (Shusseijo), Eikun, Aoshima (Shidaizumi), Shosetsu and Aoitenka Breweries as well as a few shoch and Umeshu from Tenjigura and Senju Breweries.

Koizumi Saketen
Address: 420-0008 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Suido-cho 74
Tel.: 054-2710335
Business hours: 07:30~22:00

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 6/2: Oomuraya Brewery/Nama Onigoroshi

August 9, 2007

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Back to the 300ml bottles with a “nama Onigoroshi” by Oomuraya/Wakatake Brewery in Shimada City

The only other indication given was the rice being milled at 60% and I definitely think it is a junmai. The bottle was brewed in March 2007.

Clarity: very clear

Colour: light gold tinge

Aroma: Fruity and complex/Litchi/Banana/Peach/Almonds

Body: velvety

Taste: Very close to aroma with a lot of fruit, especially litchi, peach and gardenies.
Getting drier and sharper with next sip revealing its “nama” nature.

Overall: Both pleasant and sharpish. A very “adult” sake to go well with any kind of strong-taste food

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 3/2: Doi Brewery/Kaiun 10 years old

August 6, 2007

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When the Japanese Government boosted the Sake in dustry in 1953 by offerings generous loans and tax rebates, they included an unwritten condition that Breweries produce sake to be consumed as early as possible, effectively stifling the research and developments of “vintage” and old-style sake.
Some breweries in Shizuoka Prefecture have recently developed their own “koshu”/old sake nonetheless: Morimoto (Kikugawa), Eikun (Shizuoka-Yui) and Doi (Kakegawa)

Doi Brewery has come up with a particularly interesting brew called “Junmai Ginjo Ju Nen Koshu” (Ten year old junmai ginjo) made from rice milled down to 55%.
Apart of the beautiful old fashion label, it drwas a 17~18% alcohol content, making pretty strong.
The colour is a radiant gold, almost the same colour as the label.
For unknowing people its taste reminds of old Chinese rice wine.
It could be drunk at room temperature or warmed up as “kan”. It is a bit of an acquired taste, but wine fans will be able to appreciate for its great value.
I would definitely recomend it with some hearty food.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 1/3: Morimoto Brewery/Sayogoromo

August 1, 2007

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Continuing with the 300ml bottles, this one is Sayogoromo by my favourite Brewery, Morimoto Brewery in Kikugawa City.
It is a “nama” (unpasteurized) tokubetsu Hinjozo brewed in April 2007 with the rice milled down to a slightly extravagant 55%

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Light & discreet, ricey

Body: Both light and sharp

Taste: Liquorice/coffee beans/Bitter chocolate/roasted almonds

Overall: Very pleasant nd easy to drink. No tingle in spite of its “nama” nature.
Goes extremely well with any food. Could be appreciated on its own
Dryness increases with the next sip.