Archive for September, 2007

Shizuoka Breweries 12: Aoshima/Kikuyoi

September 30, 2007

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

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When I first Mr. Takashi Aoshima, the fourth generation owning the Aoshima Brewery (est. 1750′s) in Fujieda City, I was struck by the confident vitality of the gentleman.
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Mr. Aoshima, a toji/master brewer in his own right, belongs to a new school of young brewery owners under the teachings of Denbei Nakumaura, the researcher who changed the fate of Shizuoka Sake. He is the third toji to receive an official brewer’s name, “Densaburo”, after those of Kokkou (Fukuroi City) and Shidaizumi (Fujieda City) Breweries.
Mr. Aoshima does possess many qualities and talents, but I was impressed to learn he had spent no less than 4 years in the U.S. to major in management before coming back to look after his father’s business.
His sojourn in the U.S. did influence the gentleman who is very fit as he regularly cycles and plays tennis during the two-month holiday he and all his staff take in summer, an unheard-of eccentricity in this country!
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Otherwise, it is sheer hard work and relentless toil in season. Even so, many local young would-be brewers have been applying for jobs at his kura lately. Aoshima Brewery can certainly contemplate a bright future. The more for it when one discovers that futushu/normal sake, which makes up for 20% of the total production, is made from rice milled down to an extravagant 70%!
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In his constant search for quality, Mr. Aoshima not only uses Hyogo Toku A Yamada Nishiki, Tokushima Yamada Nishiki and Iwate Giginga rices, but also organic rice grown locally for the last two years under the name of Matsusitamai for great absolutely local ginjo and dai ginjo.
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We actually spent three hours (I came in the company of my good friend, Mr. Nagashima) talking, and visiting the brewery and the nearby Matsushita rice paddies.
The annual production of 700,000 (1,8l.) bottles comes out of a brewery where traditional equipment sits beside the master brewer’s own original devices. Mr. Aoshima is still using the 100-year plus old “kama” for steaming the rice for the simple reason the wrought iron itis made of would just fetch too much in present days for an equivalent quality.
As for the water, it bursts out of a well dug more than 70 metres into the Oigawa River waterbed and the rice is exclusively fermented with Shizuoka Yeast.
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Our visit was topped with the tasting of three sake including a daiginjo (40%), all at room temperature, the way it should be done.
Talking of tasting, why do I have the impression I shall be very solicited in the near future (already got that incredible Matsushita Mai Daiginjo in the fridge!)

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Mr. Aoshima (39)is still a very eligible gentleman…

Aoshima Brewery
426-0036 Fujieda City, Kami Aoshima, 246
Tel.: 054-6415533
Fax: 054-6443156

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 18-3: Hamamatsu/Tenjigura Brewery

September 29, 2007

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

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This is the second bottle of a series of 5 300ml samples

Shusseijo Nama Ginjo
Rice milled down to 60%
Bottled in June 2007

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Almost transparent

Aroma: Ricey/light

Body: fluid

Taste: Light at first, then turns dry and complex as it takes time to develop over the palate.
Second/third sip reveals almonds and coffee beans. “nama” tingle comes later

Overall: Very easy to drink.
Probably best appreciated as aperitif.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 18-2: Hamamatsu/Tenjigura Brewery

September 29, 2007

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

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This is the first of a series of 5 330ml bottles by Hamamtsu Brewery/Tenjigura Brewery

Honjozo
Rice milled down to 65%

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Light gold tinge

Aroma: Banana/sweet

Body: velvety

Taste: Bananas, straigtforward and welcome alcohol tingle.
Sweetness disappears to be replaced by some acidity over the palate. Acidity tends to increase with food intake.

Overall: Better drunk on its own. Adult and a bit macho.

Umeshu by Shidaizumi Brewery

September 16, 2007

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

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I already had the occasion to taste this new umeshu (“Japanese plum liqueur”) callled “Umemaru” when I visited Shidaizumi Brewery in Fujieda City last August before it was put on sale. But due to a hectic schedule before leaving fro France, I did not have the time to make any report.
To amend for the hiatus, I bought and tasted a bottlelast night!

This umeshu is made with sake and ume/Japanese local plum extract, making it quite extravagant in comparison to what is usually marketed as “umeshu”)
The alcohol content is not so high at only 11 degrees.

Clarity: very clear

Colour: light orange-pink

Aroma: dry plums, drier than expected.

Body: light and smooth.

Taste: Complex and elegant. Drier than expected. Easy to drink and calling for a second and a third sip. Welcome acidity lingering over the palate

Overall: a great aperitif or refreshing drink on a hot summer day/night. Elegant. Adult. Deserves to stand beside European first-class fruit alcohols. Best drunk chilled or on the rocks.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 14-2: Shidaizumi Brewery-Shoryuu

September 16, 2007

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

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I had the occasion to taste and finish this bottle at Shidaizumi Brewery before it was put on sale, but due to a busy schedule did not have the time to record my notes. I amended the lapsus by buying and tasting it yeasterday.

Shoryuu is a junmai genshu with a difference brewed in September 2007 by Shidaizumi Brewery (Fujieda City).

Rice: Asahina Yamada Nishiki
Rice milled down to 70%

Clarity: very clear

Colour: light golden tinge

Aroma: Ricey/fruity

Body: smooth

Taste: Complex. Welcome tinge spreading through palate thanks to its “genshu” nature. Fruity/bananas.
Lingers on for a long time.
Bitter chocolate and almonds appear revealed with second sip.

Overall: Complex, pleasant, reveals many characters as it calls for another sip.
Perfect with any food. Fruity but dry. A sake to experience!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 4-6: Kumpai Brewery/Momiji

September 16, 2007

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

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This is the fourth bottle sampled by the Hamamatsu Geeks on September 14th:

Kumpai Momiji Junmai Ginjo Hiyaoroshi by Kumpai Brewery (Shizuoka City)

Rice: Biyama Nishiki 100%
Rice milled down to 50%
Dryness: +2
Bottled in September 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: ricey, flowers

Body: Fluid, light

Taste: Simple/ricey/fruits.

Overall: Great for beginners. Very easy to drink. Simple and refreshing approach. Can be drunk at all times of the day and night. Probably best on its own.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 13-4 Hana No Mai Brewery: Susono

September 16, 2007

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

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Thisa is the third bottle sampled by the Hamamatsu geeks on September 14th:
A group of sake lovers in Susono City (eastern part of Shizuoka Prefecture) asked Hana no Mai Brewery in Hamamatsu City to brew a limited junmai shiboritate genshu exclusively made with rice grown in and around Susono City and water collected from Mount Fuji.

Rice: goyakumangoku milled down to 55%
Dryness: +5
Bottled on November 2nd, 2006

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Fruity, bananas, plums

Body: fluid

Taste: complex but light. Fruity. Bananas. Welcome tingle. On second drink bitter chocolate will appear.

Overall: Easy to drink. A sake fit for light food. Recommended for ladies and beginners

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 7-3: Fuji-Takasago Brewery

September 16, 2007

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

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This is the second bottle sampled by the Hamamatsu Geeks on September 14th:
Takasago Junmai Nama Genshu (Fuji-Takasago Brewery, Fujinomiya City).

Rice: 100% Homare Fuji grwon in Shizuoka Prefecture
Rice milled down to 60%
Bottld in March 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: beautiful gold

Aroma: Ricey, light/fruity/Flowers

Body: smooth

Taste: Complex. Welcome tingle due to its “nama” and “genshu” nature, which spreads very quickly through the palate. Bananas, gardenias.

Overall: Solid and satisfying. Very popular with ladies in spite of its strong nama-genshu character. A sake to go with any food.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 11-3: Hatsukame Brewery

September 16, 2007

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

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This was the first bottle sampled by the Hamamatsu Geeks on September 14th. Notice the great retro label design!:
Hatsukame Honjozo (Hatsukame Brewery-Okabe Cho, Shida Gun)
Although a Honjozo, the rice was milled down to an extravagant 60%!
Dryness: 1
Acidity: 1.4
Bottled in February 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Ricey, light

Body: smooth
Taste: dry in spite of the 1.0 grading. Very light alcohol tingle. Vanilla, Coffee. Welcome acidity refreshingly lingering on the palate.

Overall: very light, almost feminine.
The alcohol adds complexity long enough in the palate fro reflection.
Easy to drink at any time of the day. Best on its own.

Tasting by the Hamamatsu Geeks 2

September 16, 2007

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

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On Friday September 14th, by a typical stuffy September day, was held the second Sake Tasting by the Hamamatsu geeks In Hamamatsu City.
Matthew (Matt/Curly) Ryan and Stephen (Steve/Pom) Waring, once again had the grace and expertise to prepare all for eveyone at their friend artist’s home. The latter, having inherited this large house from his father had converted it completely to create a two-storey house/hall all fit with audio equipment and the lot for regular events. The place is rapidly turning into a local celebrity-gathering den, and it does require some sound management. Well, as long as the Ozzie-Pom lives in Hamamatsu, I have no worries, whatsoever.

I introduced 4 Shizuoka Prefecture Sake:
Hatsukame Honjozo (Hatsukame Brewery-Okabe Cho)
Takasago Junmai Nama Genshu (Fuji-Takasago Brewery-Fujinomiya City)
Susono Junami Shiboritate Genshu (Hana no Mai Brewery-Hamamatsu City)
Kumpai Momiji Junami Ginjo Hiyaoroshi (Kumpai Brewery-Shizuoka City)
(Look at tasting reports to follow).

Interestingly enough, the Takasago brew came out as the favourite of the night.
I had the occasion to meet again quite a few people who had attended the first session in July, especially ladies.
Last time was a bit of a free-for-all, whereas this time everyone made a marked effort to listen and learn. Well at least until the third bottle. The fourth bottle still saw the ladies keen to listen whereas the males only held their empty glasses forward…

I had a great time and time passed really quickly. I did have to hurry to catch my train back to Shizuoka City. Unfortunately I had no time to take pictures of the gals and lads of the day. But I shall make sure of that on October 12th. It is definitely turning into a much-needed regular event. I hope the Shizuoka Geeks will ot be left behind….

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 20/2: Isojiman Brewery/Ginjo Nama

September 10, 2007

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

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After two weeks without a drop of sake (I went to visit my family in France where too much wine was sitting in our cellar to bother about my other favourite drink!), I just could not resist stopping by Nagashima Sake Shop on my way back from a whole day of cricket umpiring in Fuji City. I chose a 300ml bottle of a very fine Isojiman Brewery (Yaizu City) as I knew I would guzzle down everthing if I bought anything bigger!

Isojiman Ginjo Nama
Rice: Area A (Hyogo Prefecture) Yamada Nishiki 100%
Rice milled down to 50%

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Almost transparent

Aroma: Ricey, Bitter Chocolate, Liquorice, Cherries

Body: fluid, light and smooth

Taste: Complex. Tingle of “nama” (unpasteurized state), followed immediately by liquorice, mandarine, bitter chocolate and cherries. Lingers on palate with more bitter chocolate and oranges.

Overall: Sophisticated and complex. Very pleasurable but nonetheless easy to drink.
Makes for a superb aperitif.
Probably best drunk on its own, but will accompany any food.


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