Moriki Shuzō – “Rumiko no Sake” – Junmai Ginjō Muroka Nama Genshu

Moriki Shuzō – “Rumiko no Sake” – Junmai Ginjō Muroka Nama Genshu

Moriki Shuzō – “Rumiko no Sake” – Junmai Ginjō Muroka Nama Genshu     Summary: Interesting brew, but too heavy and savoury for my liking. Seimaibuai: 60%,  Acohol: 17.3%,  Rice: Yamada Nishiki (for kōji) and Hattan Nishiki (for kakemai (steamed rice added to fermentation tanks), Yeast #6. Prefecture: Mie Price:  Varies by restaurant, also available through Annandale cellars, POA. Score – 5/10 grains Detailed Review: This sake is hugely popular on Australian restaurant scene. I think that wine sommeliers find a lot to hang on to, to mould onto the wine frame of reference with this sake, to be able to describe and sell it to a customer. For me, this is not where I find my joy of sake. It is certainly interesting, and a bit wine-like. My notes from last year say “mushroomy”, and when I got to try it again this year, I found the same freshly sliced mushrooms in the fragrance. There is a lot of umami in the fragrance and body, and it is no surprise given that it is unfiltered. It is also quite acidic and my drinking partner described it as “aggressive”. It is full on, and sake for me is about a slightly purer vision. I don’t feel particularly good critiquing harshly a sake which is clearly a labour of love – Moriki Shuzō is a small brewery, where the wife and husband team dedicate their lives to the craft as owner-tōji. It is unfiltered, undilluted and unpasteurised, quite an experimental kind of sake. It is a bit higher in alcohol, but not the full 20% as genshu can be. In its defence, I did drink it after a bottle of beautiful and clean Wakatake’s Onikoroshi, so perhaps that was the contrast. Don’t get discouraged, it is worth trying to discover the incredible spectrum of sake flavours.        ...

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Black Market Sake – beyond ginjō

Black Market Sake – beyond ginjō

This week, I was invited to come along to the event “What’s new”, a mini trade-show that highlights new wine and sake from a number of like-minded importers.  I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Wiss & Matt Young from Black Market Sake. Black Market Sake is a purveyor of artisanal, small production sake, most of which are very hard to find outside (or inside!) Japan.  For example, almost half of their range is ‘namazake’, or unpasteurised sake. Unpasteurised sake is very fragile, and sensitive to light and temperature (all sake is, but unpasteurised is much more so).  You need to take extreme care to properly store and transport namazake, so sourcing such sake is a testament to Black Market’s determination to bring unique sake flavours to the Australian drinkers.  Linda and Matt select sake for the notable, distinct flavour profiles – “boring” and “run of the mill” are not the descriptions you’d ever use for their sake. Linda graciously walked me through the range of about a dozen of sake they were showcasing at the event.  It was a fascinating journey, as nothing gives you an appreciation for the each individual sake or wine like tasting several at a time. The variance was wide-ranging, from the classical aromatic powerhouse daiginjō to the unexpectedly sophisticated red rice junmai.  A drinker will receive a thorough education on the world of sake just by working through the Black Market range. Black Market only imports junmai, or pure sake, created without any addition of brewer’s alcohol.  More unexpected varieties are muroka (sake that hasn’t been filtered through charcoal, but instead pressed to remove any cloudy by-products) and yamahai (sake whose starter was created using slow, labourious, centuries-old traditional methods that allow wild yeasts to get into the mix and produce richer, gamier flavours).  An interesting example from their portfolio is “Shizen Jozo” Junmai Yamahai Muroka 2008 from Sugii Shuzō – unfiltered, traditionally fermented and also aged – a highly unorthodox mix! Linda and Matt are passionate about sake, and people and stories behind each bottle. Every sake is hand-picked. They make annual pilgrimage to Japan each brewing season, visiting their producers and forever searching for new additions to their portfolio. I want their job! I am reviewing a number of sake from the Black Market Range, all those that particularly grabbed my attention (more to come): Chikuma Nishiki – “Kizan Sanban’ Junmai Ginjō Fukuchiyo Shuzo – ‘Nabeshima’ Junmai Daiginjō Black Market Sake is available nation-wide through a range of sake retailers and top restaurants and bars. For more information on where you can purchase or drink it, head to the Black Market Sake...

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Chikuma Nishiki – “Kizan Sanban’ Junmai Ginjō

Chikuma Nishiki – “Kizan Sanban’ Junmai Ginjō

Chikuma Nishiki – “Kizan Sanban’ Junmai Ginjō Nama Genshu Summary: Sake that has refined boldness balancing beautiful flavour. A rare opportunity to enjoy unpasteurised sake. Seimaibuai: 55%, Acohol: 15% Price: Spotted for $75/720 ml online, but try buying directly from a store – nama sake must be kept refrigerated. Score -8/10 grains Details: Another bestselling Black Market Sake import,  “Kizan Sanban” Junmai Ginjo is unpasteurised, undiluted sake from Chikuma Nishiki, a brewery from Nagano, smack bang in the middle of Japanese Alps.  The brewery capitalises on its mountainous location, delivering sake with clarity and refinement that matches the crystal clear waters of the Chikuma Rriver, the source of water used in brewing of this sake. Kizan Sanban sake has a restrained nose with hints of umami-rich mushrooms, but follows with an intoxicating fruit explosion on the palate, all balanced with refreshing acidity.  It has just the right amount of complexity and body to translate the wildly enjoyable drinking experience into a sophisticated affair. Kizan Sanban will go beautifully with seafood, anything from sashimi to caviar. Enjoy chilled. Technical notes: “Nama” means unpasteurised. Nama sake – or namazake –  requires extra care,  but compensates with liveliness of taste. “Genshu” means it has not been diluted with water. Normally, that results in higher alcohol content. During Kizan Sanban’s production, however, fermentation is stopped early, resulting in higher sugar and lower alcohol...

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