Archive for April, 2007

Follow the Cask Trail!

April 24, 2007

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

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Have you ever wondered about all those sake casks on display at Shinto Shrines (as opposed to Budhist Temples)?
This is a good way to find or even investigate about your local sake!
For example when I visited Okuni Jinja In Mori Machi between Kakgawa City and Hamamatsu City, I discovered two casks:
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Hana No Mai Brewery (Hamamatsu) Senju Brewery (Iwata)

I decided to investigate a bit further and went to Sengen Shrine in Shizuoka City and I found the large array of “taru” (casks) as on the picture at the top of this posting.
I had the satisfaction to find quite a few from Shizuoka Prefecture:
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Chumasa (Yoshiya Brewery, Shizuoka City) at top, Kumpai Brewery (2 kinds) on second shelf
I actually found 10 different Breweries represented:
Haginishiki (Shizuoka City), Hanan No Mai (Hamamatsu City), Kaiun (Kakaegawa City), Hakuin Masamune (Takashima Brewery/Numazu City), Chumasa (Yoshiya Brewery/Shizuoka City), Senju (Iawata City), Aoitenka (Kakegawa City), Kumpai (Shizuoka City), Takasago (Fuji-Takasago Brewery, Fujinomiya City) and Shizugoromo (Sanwa Brewery/Shizuoka City-Shimizu Ku).

But I was extremely disappointed to see the invasion of no less than 22 casks from outsiders brought in by Hiraki Company owned by the family of Shinya Totsuka, the present Mayor of Kakegawa City and that of Fuuki!

If you happen to find more at diverse localities in Shizuoka Prefecture, I shall be extremly grateful for the information!

Hananomai Brewery: Umeshu

April 21, 2007

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

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Umeshu, that is a liqueur made with Japanese plum is not technically a sake, but since it is made with sake, and a lot of it in this case, I still feel it necessary to introduce it in this particular blog!

Hananomai Brewery, Hamamatsu City has had a long habit (and a good one at that!) of producing liqueurs of all kinds as well as some excellent shochu!

This particular Umeshu was made with Junmai sake (seishu), Japanese plums grown in Shizuka Prefecture and sugar.
All the ingredients are 100% Shizuoka Prefecture ingredients. Knowing that Brewery’ toji is also from Shizuoka Prefecture, it will difficult to find a more authentic Shizuoka product!
Alcohol content: 13 degrees
Ume-plum essence: 15%
Size: 500ml
Price: 1,260 yen (a bit pricey, but deserves it!)

A great aperitif, with a strong but discreet character. Great drink served chilled in hot summers!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 4/2: Kumpai Brewery/Tsubaki

April 21, 2007

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

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This is the second Kumpai Brewery bottle I tasted this year. Incidentally Kumpai Brewery, Shizuoka City, Suruga Ku, reaceived an award recently in Nagoya.

Kumpai-Sakur is a Daiginjo, made from Yamada Nishiki Rice milled down to 40% in March 2007.
Dryness: +4~5

Aroma: Flowers/Gardenia

Colour: Clear, Transparent

Clarity: Perfectly clear

Body: Light & syrupy

Taste: Flowers/Melon.
Almost at first but quickly becomes drier in the palate.
A sake that could well replce a full-bodied white wine in any meal

Traditional sake: Garyubai

April 19, 2007

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

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In the 2004 April edition of the Japanese monthly magazine “Dancyu”, apart of our good friend, John Gauntner, an interesting article appeared on the revival of rice fpr brewing sake by Sanwa Brewery, Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City.
This year they have produced their famous brand “Garyubai” from three different types of rice under their Master brewer’s advice, Mr. Fujio Kudahara of the Nanbu School.
On the picture above, from left to right:
-Garyubai made from Homare Fuji, a rice strain developed in Shizuoka Prefecture
-Garyubai made from Tankan Watarifune, a rice strain used again for the first time after an eclipse of 50 years
-Garyubai made from Yamada Nishiki rice strain
The Tankan Watarifune rice had practically disappeared in Japan but for in a agricultural laboratory located in Shiga Prefecture!
From the 30~50 g of seeds left, enough rice was produced after 3 years of painstaking culture to finally be brewed into sake last Autumn in Shizu Ku.
All 3 sake above are junmai (rice milled down to 55%) and were all made exactly according to the same process which took more than 30 days in a low temperatur environment.
If you can read Japanese, check their homepage for more information!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 9: Fujinishiki Brewery

April 16, 2007

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

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It certainly feels extremely pleasant to realize that Shizuoka Prefecture offers a host of great “honjozo” and “junmai”, supposedly at the lowest runk of the “premium sake” ladder.
Why not take full advantage of it knowing they are comparatively extravagant!

This particular brew is a honjozo recently produced by Fujinishiki Brewery in Fuji Gun which has been elected the best “ginjo” in Shizuoka Prefecture!

Fujinishiki, Honjozo, rice milled down to 65%

Aroma: sharp, flowers, sakura (cherry blossoms)

Colour: almost transparent, with a very light amber hue

Clarity: perfectly clear

Body: light

Taste: Sakura flowers. First almost sweetish, turning dry in the palate.

Dry but feminine impression. Would make the perfect aperitif.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 8-1/Sogatsuru-Hagi No Kura Brewery

April 14, 2007

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

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I finally got my hands on a bottle brewed by Sogatsuru-Hai No Kura Brewery in Kakegawa City.
This is a “new” brewery as the old Sogatsuru Brewery was acquired by one of the brothers at Haginishiki Brwery (Shizuoka City) who deicded to fly on his own wings in 2004.

This particular bottle is a junmai brewed in September 2006.
Rice milled down to 60%
Dryness: +3
Acidity: 1.3 (very low for Shizuoka)

Clarity: Very clear
Colour: very light tinges of amber
Body: light

Discreet fruity fragance
Green apples leaving the place to faint roasted nuts. Linger in the palate.
Develops into typical petillant of a junmai upon swallowing.

A discreet elegant brew fit for an aperitif or a laid back drink at home. Goes well with seafood.

The Last Bottle? 3a: Okinabenten

April 10, 2007

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

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Mr. Matsunaga of Matsunaga Saketen finally called me the other day to tell he had finally accepted to separate himself from that bottle made by the defunct Okada Brewery and sell it to me!
The very next day I was at his shop and made the transaction. Tel you the truth it became the most expensive bottle of sake I ever bought, and at the original price at that!
But it deserved it all the way!
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In spite of its grand age (brewed in 1997!), it was still eminently drinkable thanks to Mr. Matsunaga’s great care when I finally opened the bottle! Almost sweet, and lingering whatever the food I was partaking of!
When you realize it is Dai Ginjyo, Tsurushi Shibori (which means that the sake was let out naturally from “hanging bags”) and its rice milled down to an extravagant 35%, dryness, +7~9, acidity, 1.0~1.3, you will understand what a loss iwas when Mr. Okada ceased operations in 2006 due to a weakened heart!

Nagoya National Tax Office Competition

April 10, 2007

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

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April 9th, 2007.
Seven Sake from Shizuoka Prefecture were awarded Honour Prize by the Nagoya National Tax Office Sake Competition (Unofficial translation of the Japanese Title: Nagoya Kokuzeikyoku Sakerui Kampyokai) among 99 entries from Shizuoka, Mie, Gifu and Aichi Prefectures.

They are Kumpai Brewery (Shizuoka City, Suruga Ku), Yoshiya Brewery/Chumasa (Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku), Sanwa Brewery/Garyubai (Shizuoka City, Shimizu Ku), Fujinishiki Brewery (Fuji Gun), Senjyu Brewery (Iwata City), Doi Brewery/Kaiun (Kakegawa City/20th consecutive time!), Shidaizumi Brewery (Fujieda City).

History: Saketomo Teraoka Brewery/Isojiman

April 9, 2007

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

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The other day, Mr. Takahiro Nagashima of Nagashima Saketen, Shizuoka City gave me an interesting present:
A sake bottle bag by Isojiman, Yaizu City, when they were called Saketomo Teraoka Brewery.
As tehy changed their coroporate name to Isojiman Brewery in 1956, this bag is at least 50 years old!
Mr. Nagashima actually told me with a straight face that I could sell it at a collector’ auction (fat Chance!)!
Contrary to modern synthetic bags, it is made of real thick cloth and rope!
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Shizuoka Sake Tasting 7: Fuji-Takasago Brewery/Yamahai

April 5, 2007

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

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For once, I tasted a sake brewed in the Eastern part of Shizuoka Prefecture, more precisely from Numazu City.
By pure coincidence the sample was introduced in the Dancyu Magazine, April 2007 edition, as a typical example of “Yamahai” (cold brewing) sake.

Name: Takasago/Fuji Takasago Brewery/Yamahai Shikomi Junmai Genshu Arabashiri
Rice milled down to 55%
Dryness: -3

Clarity: absolutely clear
Colour: transarent
Body: light and dry

Aroma: Light flowers, fruit, discreet and elegant, almost shy. Quite light flavour for such a style of sake avoided by many brewers.

Taste: Apricot/banana/almond. Easy and smooth on the palate. Leaves a strong “petillant” after swallowing.

It could be considered a macho sake in Shizuoka Prefecture, but would probably please ladies in other parts of japan, too.

Doi Brewery: Kaiun

April 3, 2007

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

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(Your servant, Mr. Kiyokai Doi, Mr. Shokiji Hasei)

On April 3rd, a beautiful day with a clear sky and almost hot (well in Kakegawa), I took the Shinkasen (18 minutes) to Kakegawa City.
As I had plenty of time, I checked what was on display at the Jr Sation at the back of the Shinkansen tracks.
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Senjyu, Sogatsuru, Kaiun (2), Aoitenka
I discovered they still displayed a Sogatsuru bottle from the defunct brewery acquired by Hagi No Kura Brewery!
Going by taxi being a waste of money, I rode the slow coach/bus which took me through the sometimes idyllic mountain countryside to finally reach my destination where Mr. Doi was especting me.
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Mr. Doi, in spite of being the present Shizuoka Brewers Association Chairman is a shy man of few words at first, but will warm up to the conversation as he will be reassured of your good intentions and manners. Apparently loads of people come to visit his kura and it is indeed a strain on certain occasions…
I first asked the usual questions to saw the ice:
Doi Brewery was founded in 1872 and was part of the Ogasa Brewing Group until 1955 when it completely broke away under its sole name. Mr. Doi is the 4th Generation owner since WWII.
His toji from Ishikawa Prefecture, Mr. Shokiji Hasei has been working for him for exactly 40 years in 2007 and has been chosen as the best toji in Japan 7 times by his pairs!
They officially stopped making normal (futusu) sake in 1997.
Junmai accounts for 40% of their production. As for rice, they use Yamada Nishiki, Homare Fuji, Takatenji Koshikari and Okayama Omachi. As for yeast, they mainly use Shizuoka No2.
They do export to the USA and Hong Komg and a little to Denmark.
I was then taken onto a tour of the facilities:
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On the first pic above, you will notice (left roof) that Doi Brewery is the only kura in Shizuoka Prefecture and a rare example in Japan to use solar power! The whole equipment is modern and computerized in spite of 7 staff. I was invited to smell all the new sake varieties.
Doi Brewery has just successfully brewed “Hana No Ka”, a sake the Brewery last made 100 years ago to answer the demand by an Association of local sake lovers amounting to more than 200 people, including the Governor of Shizuoka:
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The new label (left) was designed by the artist Hiroko Ohsugi.
Doi Brewery also produces the following private brands:
Iira (Restaurant Gentil/Shizuoka City), Yumejikomi (Kakaegawa Liquor Shops), Enshyuu No Shiki (Kawai Liquor Shop/Hamamatsu City) and Kaiun Den (Tsukamoto Liquor Shop/Shizuoka City).

Had a great time and the blossoming cherry trees were a boon!

Doi Brewery
437-1407 Kakegawa City, Onuki, 633
Tel.: 0537-742006
Fax: 0537-744077
Homepage (Japanese)
Access: Take Osaka Line Bus at Bus Stop 3 on JR Station exit (opposite to Shinkasen exit). 20 minutes ride. 430 yen. 300 m walk


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