Archive for June, 2007

Tasting by the Shizuoka Geeks 1

June 30, 2007

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

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On Friday June 29th, was held the first “official” tasting session by the Shizuoka Geeks!
As you can see on thepicture above, the atmosphere is slightly different from that of the Tokyo Geeks’ session!
In Shizuoka Prefecture our lot lot tends to be more boisterous and informal than our peers in the Japanese Capital. After all what can you expect when you country boys from New Zealand, England, France and Japan in the same room?
From left to right, back row, Yoshitsuru “Cobra” Konuma, Yuusuke “L’Amant” Watanabe, Ashley Harvey (Kiwi). Second row, Mark Steward (England) and his wife haruna (Japan). As someone had to take the hotograph, you know who is missing.
I was basically the teacher, even to the japanese folks. It might take some time for all to understand all the secrets of our sacred beverage, but we certainly do not lack enthusiasm and gusto. As for manners and professionalism, it is either too early or dwonright impossible (manners?)

Anyway we did tase some beauties and the six of us guzzled down the three bottles on offer in no time!

-nama junmai genshu by Kumpai Brewery (Shizuoka City)
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-Junmai ginjo by Hatsukame (Okabe Cho)
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-10-year old koshu, junmai ginjo by Doi Brewery/Kaiun (Kakegawa City)
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Tasting notes to be posted very soon!

The next session will be held in Hamamatsu by the Hamamatsu Geeks next Friday to taste all the Tokyo sake sent to us by Etsuko and Melinda!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 9-2: Fujinishiki Brewery

June 28, 2007
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Please check Shizuoka Gourmet Blog for all the gastronomy in Shizuoka Prefecture!

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As this is Summer now (in spite of what they call the “Rainy Season”) and it tends to be very hot, I do have to be cautious about my alcohol intake. It is a good time to make a grab at those 300ml bottles one can easily drink up with dinner!

This particular bottle is a “nama honjozo” brewed in February 2007 by Fujinishiki Brewery in Shibakawa Cho.
Rice milled down to 65%.

Clarity: very clear

Colour: very faint tinge of gold

Aroma: Light, ricey

Body: light

Taste: Light, soft and gentle on the palate, easier to drink than you would expect for a nama/unpasteurized sake. Just dry enough. Vanilla/coffee beans/bitter chocolate.

Overall: Light, uncomplicated and easy to drink.
Great for beginners.
Goes well with vegetables and fish.
Could be appreciated as “kan” (warm)

Hatsukame Brewery

June 27, 2007

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

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My wish was finally granted on the 21st of June when I visited for the first time one of my favourite breweries, namely Hatukame in Okabe-cho, Shida Gun.
As I had plenty of time on that particular day, I cycled all the way from downtown Shizuoka, a cheaper and more netertaining way than riding the slow bus (if you are not as crazy as I, take the No 84 to Fujieda Station and get off at Okabe Kita Stop!).
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Okabe is an old town along the old Tokaido parallel to Route 1. I would recommend to visit it as it is a place to explore for old traditional houses and even a local musuem.
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The present owner, Mr. Noritsugu Hashimoto (54 and 19th generation) was waiting for me.
Mr. Hashimoto is, under his affable desmeanour, an enthusiastic and exacting brewer who is aleays willing to go into great details in his explanations.
When I asked about the origins of his Brewery, he came up with a genealogy tree (He offered me a copy!) dating back to 1636!
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Actually, when He invited me to have a chat first inside his house, I entered a veritable museum full of lore!
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HatsuKame Brewery used to be called Kame Masamune and resided in Naka Cho, Shizuoka City until they moved to their present site in in 1952.
Their present toji/master brewer is Mr. Shuuzo Takigami (73) from Noto Peninsula who has already been elected the best toji in Japan by his own peers in 1994, 1997 and 2004!
I cannot wait to come back and see him at work!
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On our way to the Brewery, Mr. Hashimoto explained to me that the cedar ball at the entrance came from Miwa Shrine in Nara Prefecture as their own kura was under the protection of Miwa Shrine in Okabe, which is directly affiliated to that in Nara!
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Their well has to be dug 50 metres deep to reach underground water from the Oigawa River bed. Even so the water still has temperature of 16 degrees Celsius, necessitating a lot of adjustments.
They use rice from Hyogo Prefecture (Toojicho. Only used by Hatsukame and Isojiman in Shizuoka Prefecture), Toyama Prefecture (Oyama Nishiki) and Shizuoka Prefecture (Homare Fuji).
As for the yeast/kobo they use No 9 and 14 and Shizuoka Kobo HD
The annual production is 10,000 bottles (1.8l), 30% of which is futsushu.
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Actually the visit of the different rooms with both traditional and ultra-modern equipment proved longer than I thought, as Mr. Hashimoto was keen to show me all, including a room held at minus 5 degrees to store the “nama sake” and rooms where vats were made made of state-of the-art titanium.
Hatsukame justifiably pride themselves in brewing high-quality sake only, whatever its variety, and Mr. Hashimoto insisted he is not interested in producing volume for the sake of commercial gains. Even so a staff of 6 work in a comparatively small brewery.
He agreed as a matter of course with my revisiting them in November before I took my leave without forgetting to obtain a bottle for the Tokyo Geeks!

Hatsukame Brewery
421-1121 Shizuoka Prefecture, Shida Gun, Okabe Cho, Okabe 744
Te.: 054-6672222
Fax: 054-6673170
Closed on Sundays
Purchases at Brewery possible

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 14/2: Shidaizumi Brewery

June 27, 2007

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

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As I plan to visit their brewery soon, I started tasting Shidaizumi Brwery’s (Fujieda City) sake in earnest.

This particular brew is a junmai nama made from rice milled down to 60%. Brewed in October 2006.

Clarity: Clear

Colour: very faint gold

Aroma: Ricey/bananas

Body: light and quick

Taste: strong & complex. Very dry. Spredas quickly in mouth.
Liquorice/bitter chocolate/raw almonds.

Overall: Should be drunk a little chilled. Goes down well with salads and vegetables.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 19: Kokkou Brewery/Denichiro

June 26, 2007

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

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I have wanted to conduct a tasting of Kokkou Brewery (Fukuroi City) for quite a while, as they are a favourite of mine. Unfortunately medium-sized bottles are not readily available in Shizuoka City. Fortunatey Tanuki No Ana serves one great brew, so I naturally there with a litlle help form Mr. Naruoka!

Denichiro is a limited brew. A junmai ginjo, it is typical of the new kind of sake produced by Shizuoka Prefecture.
Type: junmai ginjo muroka (unfiltered) tobinokakui
Rice Yamada Nishiki 100%
Milled d0wn to 60%
Dryness: +7
Acidity: 1.3

Clarity: very clear

Colour: light golden

Body: light and velvety

Aroma: Ricey

Taste: Complex. Liquorice, bananas, bitter chocolate.
Spreads on the palate with more vanilla and bitter chocolate.

Overall: an elegant sake which goes well with any food and entices for another glass!

Tasting 8-2: Hagi No Kura: Ichitomi

June 25, 2007
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Please check Shizuoka Gourmet Blog for all the gastronomy in Shizuoka Prefecture!

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Hagi No Kura, or more precisely, Sogatsuru-hagi No Kura (Kakegawa City) are slowly asserting their reputation since azquiring Sogatsuru Brewery in 2004.

Ichitomi is a straigthforward Ginjo made from rice milled down to 55%

Clarity: Clear

Colour: light golden

Body: light

Aroma: Ricey, light

Taste: light, straightforward. Coffee, bitter chocolate, vanilla.
Welcome acidity lingering. Disappears quickly.

Overall: Straightforward. Goes well with any food.

Tanuki No Ana

June 22, 2007

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

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Tanuki No Ana (“The Racoon’s Lair”) is a must if you wish to tell later that you have tasted Shizuoka Prefecture’s best sake wherever you might want to boast about it!
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Mr. Makoto Naruoka and his wife Chieko moved to the present address in 1997, but have been serving Shizuoka Sake since 1980!
Actually, if you check the labels posted on their window, you will find out that some breweries have gone out of existence!
A regular customer there, I challenged the following brews on that day:
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Denichiro by Kokkou Brewry (Fukuroi City), Hakuin masamune by Takashima Brewery (Numazu City) and Fuji-Takasago (Fujinomiya City)
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Served with some hearty food perfect with sake, I had a hard time to limit myself once again.
I will spare you from viewing all thos labels again but just know that Tanuki No Hana has no less than 20 breweries fro the following 18 breweries:
Oomuraya (wakatake-Shimada City), Kokkou (Fukuroi City), Isojiman (Yaizu City), Syosetsu, Haginishiki, Yoshiya-Chummasa, Sanwa-Garyubai, Kumpai (Shizuoka City), Kikuyoi, Shidaizumi, Sugii-Suginishiki (Fujieda City), Fuji-Takasago (Fujinomiya City), Takashima-Hakuin Masamune (Numazu City), Fujinishiki (Fuji Gun), Moriomoto (Kikugawa City), Hatsukame (Okabe Cho), Doi-Kaiun (Kakegawa City).
Sake-lover, what are you waiting for?

Tanuki No Ana
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-Cho, 2-2-5
Tel.: 054-2556704
Business hours: 17:00~23:00
Closed on Sundays
Credit cards OK

Tomitaya Saketen

June 18, 2007
Click here to
check out
The Tokyo Sake Meetup Group!

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

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Tomitaya is an old traditional “saketen” located in one of the old parts of Shizuoka City near local supermarkets replete with local produce.
Mr. Masataka Kurota, the present 3rd generation is providing great service with the help of his son, and is always ready for a chat about the history of sake and shochu in Shizuoka Prefecture. He even revealed the name of a Brewery back before WWII I had never heard about.

As for the Shizuoka Sake on sale, he has quite a few: Sugii Brewery/Suginishiki, Shidaizumi, Kansawa Brewery/Shosetsu, Doi Brewery/Kaiun, Sanwa Brewery/Hoosuu (Garyubai), Omuraya Brewery/Wakatake, Hana No mai, Yoshiya Brwery/Chumasa and Morimoto Brewery/Sayogoromo!

Tomitaya saketen
420-0042 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Komagata Doori, 4-11-21
Tel.: 054-2530482
Fax: 054-2718892

Homepage (Japanese)

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 18: Hamamatsu-Tenjigura Brewery

June 18, 2007

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

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I have wanted to taste a premium sake by Hamamatsu-Tenjigura Brewery/Shusseijo, but it has somewhat been difficult to obtain in this area of Shizuoka Prefecture until I visited Koizumi Saketen (future posting) in Shizuoka City.

This particular Daiginjo named “Tobinkakoi” is a bit of extravagance (not very cheap, either) made from 100% Yamada rice from Hyogo Prefecture milled down to a mere 40%
Dryness: +5
Acidity: 1.3
Yeast: Shizuoka Kobo

Clarity: very clear

Colour: very faint shade of amber

Aroma: light but complex. Ricey, green apples

Body: light, velvety

Taste: Dry, complex. Liquorice, bananas, bitter chocolate, green apples. Soft on the palate.
A welcome acidity lingering with more liquorice. Elegant, even after few sips.

Overall: Elegant/soft/pert. Tastes like an”adult woman”.
Would please both genders as agreat discreet aperitif.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 17: Sanwa Brewery

June 14, 2007

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

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Hoosuu is actually a Garyuubai variety brewed by Sanawa Brewery (Shizuoka City, Shimizu Ku) under the name of a private brand.
This Garyubai is made with a very unusual/rare brand of rice called “Tankan Watarifune” which was resurected from a mere 30 g. found by chance!

Garyubai Hoosuu
Nama Junmai Ginjo
Rice: 100% Tankan Watarifune
Rice milled down to 55%
Dryness: +2
Acidity: 1.2
Brewed in February 2007

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Light gold

Aroma: ricey, light, star anise, bananas

Body: light

Taste: complex, liquorice, banana, gardenia. On second sip reveals some acidity and bitter chocolate which subsequently turn agreeable.

Overall: a light but well-rounded adult sake
Goes very well with any food, particularly oily fried food and meat.

The Tokyo Geeks meet the Shizuoka Brewers!

June 13, 2007

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

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Melinda Joe with the Kumpai Brewers

Etsuko Nakamura of Tokyo Foodcast, Melinda Joe of Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass finally had the occasion to meet brewers from Shizuoka in a party organized in Meguro ward in Tokyo.

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Sanwa Brewery/Garyubai & Eikun Brewery booths

Etsuko was kind enough to send the pictures posted herein.
She and Melinda shared a good laugh with the Kumpai Brewers when they mentioned the “mystery sake” from that particular Brewery!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 6/4: Kumpai Brewery/Meguriai

June 12, 2007

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

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This particular bottle is quite different from the other brews I introduced from that Brewery in Shizuoka City as it a very dry tokubetsu honjyozo!

Kumpai Brewery, Meguriai Tokubetsu Honjyozo

Rice: 100% Miyamanishiki milled down to 55% (extravagant!)
Dryness: +6.5 (high for Shizuoka)
Brewed in May 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: Taransparent

Body: light

Aroma: discreet, ricey

Taste: very dry, ricey, a little syrupy on the palate ending with a marked acidity

Overall: Easy to drink, very dry, would go well with chocolate/cold meats

Umeshu Season!

June 12, 2007

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

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This is Umeshu making season in Shizuoka!

I decided to make my own, even if I am breaking all the rules!

Here how I proceeded in the secrecy of my office (even my better-worse half does not know about it!):

Bought 1 kg of green “ume” (Japanese plums) from a local grocery, 1kg of “koorizato” (“Ice sugar”) at Tomitaya Saketen.
To which I added in the most extravaganta manner:

1 bottle (720ml) of Kumpai Meguriai Honjyozo (Kumpai Brewery/Shizuoka City)

1 bottle (720ml) of Sugii Shodai Saisuke Kome/Rice shochu.

I cleaned the ume/plums, dropped them in jar especially conceived for home-made shochu, added all the sugar and poured in the above two bottles.

I closed it tight, marked the date on the lid, put in a cool area away from the light and will wait until next winter!

Fujinishiki Brewery awarded a Gold medal in Brussels/Belgium!

June 10, 2007

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

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Congratulations to Fujinishiki Brewery, Shibakawa Cho, who have just been awarded a gold medal at the Brussels International Event “Monde Selection” for their Junmai Dai Ginjo and Ginjo!
Mr. Sei, the owner and his daughter-in-law, Asako, are seen on the above picture holding their celebrated brews.
It was the first time taht Fujinishiki Brewery participated to this event dubbed World Food Olympics, whose main aim is to advertize great food from all over the world.

Izakaya: Yukichi

June 10, 2007

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

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The city of Fujieda have seen a lot of changes these past years with more people coming to live there due to the crowding of nearby Shizuoka City. The old JR Station has disappeared to be replaced by a whole urban complex around both exits. It means that the city has more or less become the “bedtown” of Shizuoka City. It is not all negative as it has encouraged businesses, especially in the restaurateur’ field, to set shop for the benefit of returning workers and company employees.
And some of them are definitely worth visiting.

So, Patrick of Think Twice met me last Friday at Fujieda Station and we went to Yukichi I had a checked an hour before.

Yukichi is an izakaya of a better standard opened in 2005 and it is extremely popular. We were very lucky to get our seats as most were already reserved! Most customers are in their early 30’s.
Now as a general rule, one should patronize only izakaya who serve local sake/jizake. We were not disappointed: Yukichi has some great ones on hand from Aoshima Brewery/Kikuyoi (Fujieda City) and Hatsukame (Okabe Cho)!

I also always make a point to order a chef’s sashimi set recommendation.
The one we were served (see pic above) included not only great fish but succulent chicken sashimi. An acquired taste for some I must agree, but such an unusual combination.

Now, the fact that especially makes you want to come back to Yukichi is that the Lady in charge, Ms. Yoko Naruoka will come to show you a tray with the fresh fish of the day for you to choose from before the “banchyo/chef”, Mr. Masaki Kobayashi prepares your choice either as sashimi or cooked fish as you wish. We opted for “kisu tempura” and “maguro no kama yaki”!

As we had planned to visit another place later, we limited ourselves to a glass of each sake cited above with an extra serving of “tamago yaki” and took our leave with the promise to come back very soon!

Yukichi
Fujieda City, Ekimae, 1-7-21, taiko Bldg. 1F
Tel.: 054-6469494
Business hours: 17:00~24:00
Closed on Sundays and every second Monday

Why do I blog (about sake and what else)?

June 7, 2007

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

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Holy Macaroni!
Etsuko just tagged me: Why do you blog?
Well, the truth is quite interesting: a very intimate friend of mine, Patrick at Think Twiceactually encouraged me to start my own blog after the success of his. Knowing that I had been runing various websites since 1999, he suggested that a blog would be the perfect complement. By convicing me (which was easy!), he did not realize he started a stampede!
I began with posting a fantasy book I had written which could not find a publisher.
Next, I said to myself: well this is a blook, not a blog (brought me quite a few friends, though).
As I am an incorrigible hedonistic who is alwasy on the prowl in search of new tastes, the logical step was introducing Shizuoka gastronomy. I felt like leaving on a mission (no, I’m not religious, whatsoever!): I love sake. I love the people making and drinking it. I always had a special fondness for collections and history. No one could hold me any longer!
Of course, after that came the blogs on Shochu and Sushi. I was about to initiate a Beer blog when Patrick stepped in and suggested a Gourmet Blog instead where I could, should and would talk about anything good in Shizuoka Gastronomy. This proved a great piece of advice. Well, that is until he finally suggested me to do the same in Japanese…
But I was paid back a hundredfold with all the new friends and fun!
Now, I suppose only an earthquake of unseen magnitude can stop me! (and that’s not even sure!)
Now, formore fun, I tag Timothy at Urban Sakewith thw question:
Why Sake?
LOL
Robert-Gilles

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 16: Sugii Brewery/Touryuumon

June 7, 2007

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

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Touryuumon, a limited brew by Sugii Brewery (Fujieda City), means “The Door to Success”!
It is a junmai, made from Shizuoka Yamada Nishiki Rice milled down to 60%

Clarity: very clear

Colour: light amber

Aroma: ricey

Body: Fluid and velvety

Taste: vanilla, chocolate, coffee, bananas. Light at first, soon more complex. On the second sip, getting even better with a touch of petillant.
Fades into velvet on the palate.
On the third sip, reveals orange and grapefruit and turns drier.

Overall: “Lover’s Taste”, like a woman you cannot keep your hands on. Calls for the extra sip.
Should be drunk on its own.

Shida Heiya Bishu Story

June 6, 2007

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

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On June 5th, 2007 was held the 15th Annual Shida Heiya Bishu Story (Japanese title for “Shida Plain Beautiful Sake Story”) at Hotel Ambia Syofukaku Hotel by 6 Breweries located in the Shida Plain Area in the centre of Shizuoka Prefecture: Shidaizumi (Fujieda City), Kikuyoi (Aoshima Brewery, Fujieda City), Hatsukame (Okabe Cho), Suginishiki (Sugii Brewery, Fujieda City), Isojiman (Yaizu City) and Wakatake (Oomuraya Brewery, Shimada City).

As I had taken the afternoon off, I took the opportunity to look around the city to see if I could discover local sake casks at shrines. Unfortunately, the only ones I found were all from Nada Breweries distributed by Hiraki Co….
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On the other hand I noticed a piece of history on the sign of a defunct izakaya which mentioned Kikugenji Sake from Izu Peninsula! (Bottom right corner) Kikugenji was acquired by Bandai Brewery 3 years ago.

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Back to Yaizu JR Station, I had the pleasure to meet Eriko Kanda who runs a great blog (Japanese) about Shizuoka Sake and slow food in Hamamatsu City.
I did well to meet her as it was a scramble to find a seat at the party!
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The event is a good-humoured affair (a bit expensive at Y6,000, but worth it) with little officialdom and so may opportunities to meet people.
Talking of which, I had not the faintest idea that John (John Gauntner) would attend. Imagine my surprise when he came to say hello to me! It was the first time we actually physically met after all these mails we exchanged!

It proved a very useful day, as I secured promises for interviews from all the Breweries, finally met new friends and tasted some beauties!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 15: Senju Brewery

June 4, 2007

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

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At long last, I tasted my first bottle from Senju Brewery in Iwata City. I can’t explain why, but I have problems to put my hands on the this prolific Brewery in the west part of our Prefecture!

This brew’s name, Honami, is quite poetic as it means “rice shaffs waves”!
This is a “biological” sake as the 100% Goyakumangoku rice strain is grown around Iwata City, an area famous for its agriculture, without any artificial fertilizer or pesticides.
It is a “seishu” junmai, 15.5 degrees of alcohol, rice milled down to 55%, making use of water from own well fed by Tenryuu River.

Clarity: very clear

Colour: Transparent

Aroma: light,ricey + pears

Body: Light and velvety

Taste: Petillant on the palate. Bananas, pears. Later vanilla and bitter chocolate

Aftertaste: Petillant lingers around at the back of the palate with pearsand vanilla.

Overall: Pert, feminine. Would go well with chocolate and desserts.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 4/3: Kumpai Brewery/Tenryou No Taki

June 4, 2007

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

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Kumpai Brewery is decidedly coming up (I have one more bottle to taste…) with more and more remarkable brews in recent years. I suspect the son’s enthusiasm here.

Tenryou No Taki is a Muroka (unfiltered) Junami
100% Biyama Nishiki rice milled down to 55%
Dryness: +1 (very sweet for Shizuoka)
This particular bottle was brewed in February 2007

Colour: Light amber

Clarity: very clear

Aroma: ricey/light

Taste: sharp, sweet and sour/vanilla, bitter chocolate, almonds, grapefruit.

Aftertaste: lingers around with some acidity as grapefruit stays around.

Overall: turns complex as you drink more. Goes well with any kind of fried food. Food actually reveals the sweetness.


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