Archive for October, 2007

Negami-Kinmei Brewery

October 29, 2007

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

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I reached Gotenba City under menacing skies on Friday, October 26th. For once I did not have to waste my time and energy teaching unconcerned brats at University as they were preparing for their annual festival. I had found a way to enjoy my own festival by agreeing on an appointment with Mr. Yooichi Negami, owner/master brewer of Negami/Kinmei Brewery.
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I was pleased to notice their advertizement along the railroad tracks as I got off the train. At least the city of Gotenba will never run dry of sake!
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Mr. Negami kindly greeted me at the exit, saving me a lot of trouble as his “kura” stands a long way from the city center abut the foot of Mount Fuji at 550 metres, making it the highest located brewery in Shizuoka Prefecture after it was moved some 30 years ago away from near the present JR Station.
We discovered quite a few common traits as he was driving a Peugeot, a brand that my own father had been using for more than 40 years, and talking about the French football greats, Platini et al, that he admires so much.
Along the way I asked him the question I had been mulling on for a couple of weeks:
“Why does Negami Brewery produceonly junmai sake?”
Mr. Negami’s reply, who spent some time studying wine before becoming the fourth generation owner/master brewer (he is presently 47 and has a junior high school daughter) was straightforward enough:
“People do not add alcohol to wine, except when creating Port-like brews. Why should he bother to alter the original taste of sake?”
I have a lot of respect for his courageous attitude. After all, he is taking a big risk in halving the number of varieties of his creations. And he certainly deserves a lot of praise and encouragement because his sake is not only great but made from mostly local ingredients:
-Rice is mainly Wakamizu from Gotenba with some Yamada Nishiki (Tojo variety from Hyogo Prefecture) and Gohyakumangoku (Toyama Prefecture).
-Yeast is Shizuoka NEW-5, wit some No 9, 10 and 14
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-The water is gushing out of a well dug 70 metres deep inside Mount Fuji’s flank.

The Brwery was founded in the 1870’s by the second son of Negami’s family, as his elder opted for brewing beer. The brewery is the only one left in Gotenba City after Shunkai (before WWII), Yamanaka-Fujiebisu, Fujijiman and Fuji-Ichi (after WWII) breweries ceased operations.
The name of thier brand, Kinmei is an abbreviation of Kinmeisui (Water of Mount Fuji).
Apart of his own brands, Mr. Negami brews private brands for clients in Shimizu-Cho, Kakitagawa (Izumi no Yakata) and Oyama Cho (Kintaroo no Sato).
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Kinmei brands can be bought directly at the Brewery:
Negami Brewery
412-0043 Goteba City, Hodozawa, 850-4
Tel.: 0550-893555
Fax: 0550-897588

or their shop in Gotenba City:
412-0043 Gotenba City, Shinbashi, 737-3
Tel.:0550-82-5000
Tel.:0550-82-0009
Fax:0550-82-0367

or through their Homepage (Japanese)

Although I found the place quite neat, Mr. negami profusely apologised for the dirty place he was in the process of cleaning sterelizing before “shikomi” in 3 weeks’ time. I’m left wondering what he calls “clean”.
I certainly had a great time sharing a precious moment with the shy gentleman, and I must say we are both looking forward to our next meeting.

Incidentally, Melinda and Etsuko, a bottle will be on its way soon!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 14-4: Shidaizumi Brewery

October 24, 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 of “seishu/futsushu” (“normal sake” as opposed to premium sake) brewed by Shidaizumi in Fujieda City. If you read the notes below carefully, you will realize why a new classification system is needed for this kind of sake!

Shidaizumi Hiyaoroshi Seishu (normal sake) Genshu (original unadultered brew)
Alcohol content: 18 degrees
Rice: Goyakumangoku (Toyama Prefecture) 20%, Hitomebore (Yamagata Prefecture) 80%
Rice milled down to 65% (!!!!)
Yeast: Shizuoka Kobo NO-2
Dryness: +4
Acidity: 1.3

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Almost transparent

Aroma: Light, ricey

Body: fluid

Taste: Solid. Bitter Chocolate. Welcome acidity

Overall: Quite a surprise. But looking at milling percentage, simply extravagant for “futsushu”. Welcome acidity.
Goes very well with food.
Would be a good sample to refer to as far as a new grading sytem is concerned. Outstanding value for price!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 21-1: Kansawagawa-Shosetsu Brewery

October 22, 2007

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

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Kansawagawa Brewery, more widely known for its main brand Syosetsu, is located in Yui Cho, which will become part of Shizuoka City in 2008.

Syosetsu Junmai Ginjo
Rice: Yamada Nishiki 100%
Rice milled down to 50%
Dryness +1~+4
Acidity: 1.3
Alcohol: 15~16 degrees proof

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost tansparent

Aroma: discreet and fruity, pears.

Body: velvety

Taste: Complex. fruity. Junmai tingle disappears quickly. Pears lingering.
Food reveals a little welcome acidity. Bitter chocolate and almonds later

Overall: Elegant
A sake for all seasons. Goes very well with food.
New flavours revealed by food. Best drunk at room temperature.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 17-4: Sanwa Brewery

October 22, 2007

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

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Hiyaoroshi beingin season, I decided to taste Sanwa Brewery (Shimizu Ku) brand.

Garyubai Junami Ginjo Hiyaoroshi
Rice: Yamada nishiki (Shiga Prefecture) 100%
Rice milled down to 50%
Dryness: +1
Acidity: 1.5
Bpttled in October 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Light, fruity, complex.

Body: velvety

Taste: Complex. Surprisingly dry and slightly acid in spite of numbers advertized. Turns mellow later.
Banana, vanilla, caramel, bitter chocolate, coffee.
Junmai tingle revealed later.

Overall: Easy to drink, but very complex in spite of relative lightness.
Goes very well with food, but ouht to be drunk on its own.
Taste tends to greatly vary with food before comonig back to original impression.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 6-4: Oomuraya Brewery-Sake Rock

October 17, 2007

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

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Oomuraya Brewery (Wakatake/Onna Nakase) in Shimada City must have been inspired by their export business to the U.S. when they created this remarkable sake!
For all the dubious design, it is a sake worth noticing, both for its concept and type!

Sake Rock
Seishu/futsushu (“normal sake”)
Rice: Goyakumagoku
Milled down to 70% (absolutely extravagant for futsushu!)
Alcohol contents: 21 degrees (yes, you read correctly, 21 degrees proof!)

Clarity: very clear

Colour: light gold

Aroma: Strong/Pear/Banana/Vanilla

Taste: Strong alcohol spreading over palate. Fruits.
Plenty of bananas and pears. More alcohol emerging with some acidity after second sip.

Overall: Very macho sake. Drinks like a cocktail.
Goes very well with food.
Best drunk slightly chilled. Let it warm inside the mouth.

A discovery that Tim and blokes all the world would be particulary interested in!

Tasting 18-6: Hamamatsu-Tenjingura Brewery

October 10, 2007

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

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This is the fifth and last bottle of a series of 5 300ml samples

Shusseijo Nama Junmai Ginjo

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Almost transaprent

Aroma: Light. Ricey

Body: Velvety

Taste: Complex. Light. Coffee beans/Bitter chocolate
Welcome tingle and faint acidity.
More acidity revealed with food and spreading over the palate.

Overall: Complex. An excellent sake for food, although too much salt will interfere with it.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 11-4: Hatsukame Brewery

October 10, 2007

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

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This was the second bottle tasted by the Shizuoka Geekes during their third tasting session.
Hatsukame Brewery in Okabe-cho, Shida Gun, are particularly proud of this brew. It is their “Vintage Brew” as they reproduce it every year according to the same exacting techniques. They actually call it “Hatsu 2007 Kame”

Hatsu 2007 Kame
Dai Ginjo
Rice: Yamada Nishiki 100%
Rice milled down to 45%
Bottle contents: 500 ml
Bottled in February 2007

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Anise, apples

Taste: Complex. Orange peels. Apples. Welcome alcohol tingle. Bitter chocolate appears later.

Overall: A beauty!
Almost tastes like a very dry Cointreau. The Brew Master’s special recommendation!
Should be drunk on its own, preferably after food.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 6-3: Oomuraya Brewery/Kajika

October 10, 2007

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

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This was the first bottle drunk by the Shizuoka Geeks during their third tasting session.
It is a seasonal brew limited to 300 bottles every Autumn. Incidentally, until last year they did not bother to indicate the pronunciation of the Kanji “Kajika” (Bullhead Fish) in katakana under it. Obviously too many had been asked about this very unusual Kanji…
Oigawa Kahan Kajika by Oomuraya (Wakatake) Brewery (Shimada City)
Tokubetsu Junmai
Rice milled down to 60%
Rice: Homare Fuji + Aichi No Kaori
Dryness: + 0
Acidity: 1.5
Amino acids: 1.4
Yeast: Shizuoka Yeast
Bottled in September 2007

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Light golden tinge

Body: fluid

Taste: Typical “junmai” tinge. Light and fruity. Melon/watermelon

Overall: Easy to drink. Best as aperitif. Goes very well with salads and light flavoured food

Tasting by the Shizuoka Geeks 3

October 8, 2007

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

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On Friday October 8th, the Shizuoka Geeks held their 3rd tatsing session!
Due to the faraway location of the day’s hosting abode in Miwa, Shizuoka City, we were few but dedicated.
Were assembled the ever-faithful Mark and Haruna Steward and our new Geek, Neil Harrison, and your servant, all members of the famed, if not winning, Shizuoka Kytes Cricket Club.
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We tasted two interesting, if vastly different brews, one a limited edition, “Oigawa no kahan kajika” by Oomuraya-Wakatake Brewery/Shimada City, and Hatsukame Daiginjo, 2007 Vintage by Hatsukame Brewery/Okabe cho.
We all thoroughly enjoyed the sake. See coming reports. The only complaint was, that is spite of all the beer guzzled in between, one or two more sake could have been taken care of!
Didn’t I tell you we were all peasants down here?

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 18-5: Hamamatsu/Tenjingura Brewery

October 8, 2007

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

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This is the fourth bottle of a series of 5 300ml samples
Name: Shusseijo Junmai
Bottled in June 2007
Rice milled down to 60%

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Light golden tinge

Aroma: Ricey/light/fruity-melon

Body: Velvety

Taste: Complex: bitter chocolate, bananas, melon, coffee beans.
Lingers over the palate.
Welcome acidity revealed later.

Overall: Very pleasant and sophisticated. “Full body”. Perfect withe seafood and sashimi.
Very “fulfilling sake”

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 18-4: Hamamatsu-Tenjingura Brewery

October 3, 2007

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

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This is the third bottle of a series of 5 300ml samples
“Nami no Uta”
Seishu/Futsushu (“normal sake”)

Clarity; very clear

Colour: Light golden tinge

Aroma: Ricey, light, bananas

Body: fluid

Taste: Bananas, almonds, bitter chocolate.
Complex. Tends to vary and get sweet with food: more bitter chocolate, coffee beans

Overall: quite extraordinary for “seishu/futusyu”. Can be drunk on its own or with any food.
A clear case for a different classification for non-premium sake!

20th Shizuoka Prefecture Jizake Fair

October 2, 2007

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

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On the 1st of October was held the long awaited Jizake Fair at the Century Hotel in Shizuoka City!
I had to scramble to arrive from work at about 19:10, although the event had started at 18:30 (bloody too early if you ask me!). I arrived in a crowded place, that with the local media making a nuisance of themselves… As I could not find my friends, I just took my glass and decided to start the tasting marathon.
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I had the great pleasure to meet old acquaintances who in turn helped me getting introduced to other brewers I had been looking forward to taling to for quite some time.
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I secured future interviews east and west and even central Shizuoka Prefecture with Kinmei (Gotemba), Izu no Umi (Numazu), Fujimasa/Chiyomine and Makino/Shiraito (Fujinomiya), Haginishiki (Shizuoka), Senju (Iwata) and Hamamatsu/Tenjigura (Hamamatsu).
It was all a bit hectic as I had to greet evryone who has so kindly helped me these last months: Denbei Nakamura, Mr. Doi, Eriko Kanda and so on.
Al in all it was a great evening, but far too short to my liking. Alright, I will have plenty of time to remedy that!


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