Archive for December, 2007

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 27-2: Aoshima-Kikuyoi Brewery

December 28, 2007


The Japan Blog List

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

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It dawned on me some time ago that If I wanted to taste and report on as many sake as possible, a simple, and easier one at that, way to do it cosisted in writing on sake I actually drunk in my favourite izakayas or restaurants, knowing the owners would not mind at all indulging me (and their reputation!).
Therefore this particular tasting was conducted at Tomii, a great Kyoto-style restaurant in Shizuoka City:

Kikuyoi Tokubetsu Junmai (Aoshima Brewery/Fujiieda City)
Rice: Yamada Nishiki
Rice milled down to 60%
Dryness: +6
Acidity: 1.3
Yeast: Shizuoka Yeast

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Golden tinge

Aroma: Very fruity/pineapple/flowers

Body: velvety

Taste: Dryness mixed with junmai tingle. Complex. Keeps both dry and velvety after second sip.
Calls for another sip.
Turns drier with food and reveals more flavours: bitter chocolate/green apples

Overall: A typical “Shizuoka sake”. Easy to drink but very complex and elegant sake. Turns drier than most Shizuoka sake.
This particular sake was introduced in the celebrated manga, “Kurabito Claude” part III!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 25-3: Bandai Brewery

December 27, 2007

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

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I was pleasantly to surprised to discover that particular bottle at Isetan Department Store in Shizuoka City, considering that Bandai Brewery sake (Shuzenji, Izu Peninsula) are pretty difficult to find away from their locality and the fact the store named above is simply hopeless when it comes to drinks. Only last month I threatened them to report their mistakes to the Shizuoka Association of Sake Brewers when I found that Morimoto Brewery had been relocated to Kakegawa City. The first person I complained to almost shouted at me that the Brewery had been acquired by someone in Kakegawa City… They found out quickly they had proferred the wrong words to the wrong person!
This said, I still thank them for offering Bandai Brewery sake!

Bandai Izu Ban’yo Junmai Ginjo
Rice: Homare Fuji
Rice milled down to 60%
Dryness: +3
Yeast: Shizuoka No-2
Bottled in December 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Discreet/fleeting. Slighlty sweet. Ricey. Greens.

Body: Velvety

Taste: Complex. Junmai tingle. Elegant. Light. Greens.
Bitter chocolate and vanilla appear later.

Overall: Elegant. Difficult to define/discern. Goes very well with food.
Would become a real poser at a tasting session.
Drunk it on Christmas with foie gras. Made for a great combination.
Stays soft with a lingering tingle with food.
Happened to also drink with chocolate. Turned very dry and interesting, then.

Shizuoka sake Tasting 27-1: Aoshima-Kikuyoi Brewery

December 23, 2007

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

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It is somewhat difficult to believe, but for all my meetings and sending their brews everywhere I had not written a single tasting article about Aoshima-Kikuyoi Brewery in Fujieda City!
I made a point to tatse one when I visited one of my favourite sushi restaurants, Ekimae Matsuno Sushi in Shizuoka City today!

Kikuyoi Tokubetsu Honjozo Nama
Rice: Yamada Nishiki Toyonishiki
Rice milled down to 60%
Dryness: +5.5
Acidity: 1.3
Yeast: Shizuoka Yeast

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Sweet, fruity/pineapple

Body: velvety

Taste: Welcome acidity mixed with a lot of fruit/pineapple/bitter chocolate/vanilla.
Refreshing

Overall: easy to drink. Very elegant for Honjozo.
Goes very well with any food, especially sashimi and sushi.
Lots of fruit. Turns complex with food.
Could be drunk on its own. Would particularly be pleasant chilled in summer.
With food, turns almost extravagant

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 26-1: Eikun Brewery

December 22, 2007

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

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Slowly but steadily (although in a very disorganized way), I am progressing through all the breweries of Shizuoka. Incidentally the tasting order does not reflect my preferences, although those also vary along time…
I did not have to go far this time, as Eikun Brewery stands in the mountains near Yui, which will be part of Shimizu Ku next year.

Eikun Tokubetsu Junmai
Rice: Gohyakumangoku (Fukui Prefecture)
Rice milled down to 55%
Dryness: +4
Acidity: 1.2
Bottled in February 2006

Clarity: very clear

Colour: light gold

Aroma: Fruits: pineapple/banana

Body: velvety

Taste: Junmai tingle. Complex. Fruity: pinepapple, banana, bitter chocolate.
Fruits linger long in mouth.
Calling for another sip.
Welcome faint acidity appears later with sweet oak and bitter chocolate.

Overall: Elegant. Easy to drink. Very fruity.
Calls for another sip. Complexity grows as more is drunk.
Turns surprisingly very dry when eating fresh fruit or dessert.

Shizuoka Umeshu: Hamamatsu-Tenjingura Brewery

December 19, 2007

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

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Shizuoka not only produces some of the best sake in Japan and absolutely extravagant shochu, but also come up with the cream of Umeshu found in this country adding local Japanese plums to their sake or shochu for the plesaure of all.

Hamamatsu-Tenjingura Brewery in Hamamatsu City has the particularity to brew sake, shochu, beer and umeshu (when are they going to make wine?).

This Umeshu called Kuramoto no Umeshu (Umeshu from our Brewery) is certainly a beauty:
Alcool: 15 degrees
Ingredients: Kome/rice shochu, Japanese plums extract, sugar.
No colouring or artificial state added.
Bottled in June 2007.

Best appreciated on the rocks or straight and chilled at all times.
Very elegant and satisfying. Will please both ladies and gentlemen.
The perfect aperitif!

Hamamatsu Brewery
Hamamatsu City, Tenjin machi, 3-57
Tel.: 053-461-6145
HOMEPAGE

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 23-2: Masu Ichi Brewery

December 19, 2007

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

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Kouji Masui, the 7th generation Master Brewer at Masu Ichi Brewery in Shizuoka City has always shown a very independent character in his brewing, in spite of his being a disciple of Denbei Kawamura, the man who revolutionezed Shizuoka Sake.
His recent honjozo is another example of his singular talent:

Masu Ichi Shiboritate Honjozo
Rice milled down to 60%
Bottled in December 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: light. Discreetly fruity, hints of melon and pear

Body: velvety

Taste: Dry, clean touch with a tingle. Fruity: melon.
Turns complex with food.
Dry acidity revealed later with bitter chocolate.
Dryness lingering in mouth.

Overall: Probably a sake more suited to gentlemen.
Easy to drink. Welcome acidity.
Drier and sharper than most Shizuoka Sake.
Dryness disappears with desserts: makes for an interesting discovery.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 7-5: Fuji-Takasago Brewery

December 18, 2007

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

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Who said (in Tokyo?) that honjozo were for the locals?
If that is so, I am extremely proud and pleased to be considered one!
In the case of Shizuoka Prefecture, honjozo are probably the most unpredictable and beautiful sake (in my humble peasant opinion…LOL)

Fuji-Takasago Brewery in Fujinomiya has come up with another beauty (sorry, I’m repeating myself!):

Shiboritate Otafuku Honjozo

Rice milled down to 60%
Bottled in December 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: light golden tinge

Aroma: very fruity: strawberries/pears/melon

Body: velvety

Taste: very fruity at first: lots of strawberries.
Varies shrply and turns complex with food.
Almonds/bitter chocolate wit a hint of acidity.
“Nurukan”, heated to 40~50 degrees: gets drier/still plenty of strawberries. Turns more “aggressive”

Overall: A sake for all seasons. Can be drunk chilled with a reminiscence of ice-cream.
Lots of fruit. The strawberries taste is quite a discovery!
The brewers actually suggest to drink it from on the rocks to nuruma!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 25-2: Bandai Brewery

December 16, 2007

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

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Bandai Brewery in Shuzenji (Izu Peninsula) is probably the most traditional and probably the oldest in Shizuoka Prefecture (apparently founded in 1497!). It is not always easy to obtain their brews as they tend to disappear on their way from such a distant place! Anyway, last time I visited Shuzenji, I made sure to grab one in spite of my better (worse?) half complaining about all that luggage (I had to carry…)

Arabashiri
Futsushu-Seishu/Normal-regular sake
Rice: Shizuoka Jimai (mixture of rices from our prefecture)
Rice milled down to 70%
Yeast: Asociation No 5

Clarity: very clear

Colour: Gold tinge

Aroma: Fruity/fleeting

Body: velvety

Taste: Soft at first. Fruity: almonds. Welcome acidity lingering in mouth.
Tends to change with food. Bitter chocolate appearance.

Overall: Surprisingly pleasant for Futsushu. Easy to drink.
For all its announced dryness, quite soft.
Drunk “nuruma”, almonds backed up by increased acidity. Becomes more velvety and finishes with bitter chocolate.
Conclusion: never underestimates a Shizuoka Futsushu!

At long last, the first sake-only shop in NYC: SAKAYA!

December 10, 2007

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

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At long last, true pioneers in the persons of Rick and Hiroko Smith have opened the first-ever sake-only shop in New York City!

To make things short and more precise, I though it was best to let Rick and Hiroko introduce themselves:
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Hi everyone! We’re Rick and Hiroko and we’re sake enthusiasts with a dream. Our dream? To share our excitement about premium sake with kindred spirits like you. We believe the time has come for New York to have its first shop specializing in premium sake. Sakaya will focus on acquainting, educating, and familiarizing patrons with the pleasures of drinking sake, and pairing them with food. We hope to offer a learning experience that not only creates an appreciation for sake but also for the Japanese culture from which it originates.

We invite you to join us on our journey to fulfilling the dream. We’ll be sharing our experience as we build Sakaya, along with some basic information, fun facts, and insights into the cultural heritage of sake. We look forward to having you with us throughout the store’s gestation period and when we finally open our doors. Our address is 324 E. 9th Street (between 1st & 2nd Avenues) New York, NY 10003. If you have any questions or inquiry about our shop or just want to say hello

Please check their HOMEPAGE!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 7-4: Fuji-Takasago Brewery

December 10, 2007

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

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This is the third bottle tasted by the Shizuoka Geeks on December 7th, 2007

Takasago Daiginjo “Soleil”
I was told that the owner of Fuji-Takasago Brewery had a soft spot for French wines, hence the name “Soleil/Sun”! He went as far as mentioning: “Mis en bouteille par Fuji-Takasago Syozo et Cie Fujinomiya Shizuoka, Produit de Japon” (only one small mistake, LOL).
It was even corked!
A very extravagant sake, I wonder if the Shizuoka Geeks realized they were drinking nectar!

Only one metion:
Rice milled down to 35%

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Golden hue

Aroma: Light, flowery

Body: velvety

Taste: Elegant/Fruits/Strawberries.
Lingers long in mouth with more strawberries and flowers/coffee beans.
Bitter chocolate appears with food.

Overall: Elegant. Very easy to drink. A session sake, although perfect with food!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 13-6: Hana no Mai Brewery

December 10, 2007

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

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This is the second bottle tasted by the Shizuoka Geeks on December 7th, 2007

Hana no Mai Brewery (Hamamtsu City) Kura dashi Ginjo Nama Sake
Rice: Shizuoka Yamada Nishiki
Rice milled down to 55%

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: Transparent

Aroma: Flowers, light

Body: Velvety

Taste: very dry impression.
Turns sharpish with food. Reminiscent of custard/vanilla/almonds.
Tends to go through sweet/sour cycles with food later.

Overall: Sharpish dry sake, but tends to turn “sweet and sour” with food.
Would probably appeal more to gentlemen than to ladies

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 13-5: Hana no Mai Brewery

December 10, 2007

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

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This is the first bottle the Shizuoka Geeks tasted on December 7th:

Hana no Mai Brewery, Shiboritate Junmai
Rice Shizuoka Yamada Nishiki
Rice milled down to 60%
Dryness: +3
Acidity: 1.8
Bottled on October 27th, 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: Transparent

Aroma: Light, ricey, bananas, berries

Body: velvety

Taste: Junmai tingle. Sharpish. Fruity: bananas, berries. Acidity develops later in mouth.

Overall: A very easy to drink sake. Drier than expected. Goes down well with food.

Tasting by the Shizuoka Geeks 4

December 10, 2007

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

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On December 7th, the Shizuoka Geeks (somehow) held their fourth Shizuoka Sake tasting Session!
As I mentioned before the Shizuoka Geeks Sessions tend to quickly turn into very raucous affairs, and you do have to take your notes in a hurry (probably the time it would take to open the bottles and taste the first and second glasses before the thing degenerates into serious drinking!).
Were attending: Haruna and Mark Steward, Seiko Kubo, Miki Aoki, Tetsuya “Happy” Nishida and your servant.
Now we tasted the following sake:
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Hana No Mai Brewery, Shiboritate Junmai (Hamamatsu City)
Hana No Mai Brewery, Kura dashi Ginjo Nama Sake (Hamamatsu City)
Both bottles were gracefully offered to me by Etsuko Nakamura of Tokyo Foodcast. Than you so much, Etsuko!
Takasago Brewery,Daiginjo “Soleil” (Numazu City)
Reports on the sake tasted coming immediately!

Maboroshi Sake: Kuromai by Sugii Brewery

December 9, 2007

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

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Here is one sake I may never taste, hence the expression, “Maborおshi Sake”!

In 2000 Kinnosuke Sugii, the owner and Master brewer at Sugii Brewery (Suginishiki) in Fujieda City, came up with one of his annual creations: Kodaimai Kurozake (Ancient Rice, Black sake) Honjozo.
At this time my good friend Takahiro Nagashima of Nagashima Saketen in Shizuoka City acquired two bottles of this very limited one-time only brew and decided to let them mature for a s long as possible. He drunk the first bottle last year and found supremely good.
Yesterday, December 6th, he showed me the second bottle he hoped to let mature some more time and allowed me to take a picture for posterity.
He promised me he would invite me when he decides to finally open it!
A sort article for a long wait….
I might as well as grab Mr. Sugii’s next creation for my own cellar!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 25-1: Bandai Brewery

December 9, 2007

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

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I have wanted for some time already to taste and find out about a “kuromai/black rice sake”. I was finally able to acquire a bottle during my last trip to Shuzenji in Izu Peninsula.
the sake is called Kuromai Yondai Shikomi Seishu and is brewed by Bandai Brewery.

Rice: kuromai
Alcohol: 15~16 degrees
Seishu/futsu sake

Clarity: very clear

Color: persimmon orange

Aroma: light, ricey, malt

Body: fluid

Taste: sharpish and tingling. Dry, almost like a shochu/whisky. Malty taste. Dry persimmons.
Gets easier to drink with the next sip.

Overall: A very dry sake, vey macho.
Might be best drunk as “kan/warm”. Goes down well with oily foods as it turns a little sweeter in palate.
Acquired taste?

Another intruder?

December 9, 2007

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

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On Thursday November 29th I joined my better (worse?) half on a day-trip to Shuzenji, the home of Bandai Brewery. In 2003 the latter acquired the defunct Toyoo Brewery made famous by its brand name, Kikugenji.
But apparently, this particular brand name ownership was not part of the deal.
As we walked around the small scenic tourist resort under the colour-changing maple trees I noticed the name Kikugenji on the overheard board of a liquor shop called Amanoya.
Funny, I thought. I decided to investigate. The owner appeared soon enough and confirmed the demise of the brewery (I mentioned the name of Kikugenji, not that of the brewery, playing the foolish foreigner…sorry!). But when I asked whether he still sold the brand since it was written on his board and galss door, he gave me an affirmative response and started getting a bottle out of his refrigerator.
I stopped him short, explaining I did not nderstand why he was still selling the brand though the Brewery had disappeared.
“But this sake is made in Nada area. Before being absorbed, Toyoo Brewery had opened a branch in Nada and sold its name to a Nada brewer.”
Ah, ah… I apologized, saying I was only interested in buying real local sake. I cannot say the man looked happy sas I left the liquor shop.
On my way down to the bus station I noticed a big sign outside a local izakaya advertizing Kikugenji.
The vey next day, I was able to confirm my suspicions when I met Denbei Kawamura on the trainon my to university. The gentleman happens to work in the same city as I.
The end result ia that a Nada Brewer is still able to sell its wares through an acquired brand in a faraway city taking advantage of the original defunct Brewery’s good name (with the apparent agreement of the said Brewery).
I was in for another disappointing revelation when I discovered that Hiraki Co. was distributing Bandai Brewery’s sake in Izu Peninsula…

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 21-2: Kansawagawa-Shosetsu Brewery

December 5, 2007

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

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When I visited Kansawagawa-Shosetsu Brewery last month, I bought both ends of their range and deicded to taste their top first. Slightly extravagant of me, I must confess!

Shosetsu Junmai Daiginjo

Rice: Yamada Nishiki 100%
Rice milled down to 35%
Dryness: +1~+4
Acidity: 1.3
Bottled in November 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: Golden tinge

Aroma: very discreet, ricey, green apples, pears

Body: velvety

Taste: Complex, difficult to catch as varies with food.
Dry impression
Fruity: gardenias, pears, almonds, bitter chocolate.
Later bananas and melon.
Lingers on palate, especially after food.

Overall: Elegant. Fleeting.
Session sake.
At times drier than expected.
Turns extravagant with food.

Shizuoka sake Tasting 10-2: Takashima Brewery

December 3, 2007

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

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When you look at Takashima Brewery’s labels, you will have to make a point at looking carefully at tha “band” over the main label, as this is the only information you will get (and make sure it goes into your scrap book as well!)

Although, their brews are few, they are definitely out of the oridinary. A favourite? Definitel!

Hakuin Masamune Homare Fuji Junmai Shu

Rice: Homare Fuji
Rice milled down to 60%
Alcohol: 15=16 degrees
Bottled in October 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Light, ricey

Body: velvety

Taste: Complex, but takes time to develop.
Fruits: dark cherries. Junmai tingle. Unexpected and welcome acidity appears with food.
Develops and lingers on the palate after second sip

Overall: Complex, elegant, refined.
A sake you discover as you taste it.
Session sake

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 17-5: Sanwa Brewery

December 2, 2007

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

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We are still tasting new sake (shinshu) and it is only a question to try as many as possible!
Sanwa Brewery (Shimizu Ku) did not disappoint and came up with one in a jiffy!

Sanwa Brewery-Garyubai Junmai Ginjo “Fukuro Tsuri Kashu”
“Fukuro Tsuri Kashu” means that it is original sake collected as it oozes out of the “draining bag”

Rice: Gohyakumangoku (Toyama) 100%
Rice milled down to 55%
Alcohol: 16=17 degrees (genshu)
Dryness: +1
Acidity: 1.5
Bottled in November 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: solid, fruity, pears, vanilla

Body: velvety

Taste: Junmai tingle. Fruity: vanilla/bitter chocolate/pears/persimmons
Stays long in mouth. Pleasant, elegant. Acidity revealed later.
Becomes more complex with next sips. Lingers on pleasantly

Overall: Elegant, deep caharacter, asking many questions. Entices to another cup.
Changes to a very dry sake with food.


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