Jan 10, 2011

Sake Season: Shinshu/ 日本酒の季節:新酒

There are stream of lives given birth to the world while every organism still hibernates in deep winter. It is the season’s firstly pressed Sake.
Some breweries start brewing Sake in the beginning of November, and around December is when the first batches of the Sake are pressed. It is called “Shinshu“ literally means “new Sake“. Most of the sake is pasteurized and aged from 6 months to 1 year after pressing and it makes the flavour of sake mellow and round out. Shinshu is sake released without pasteurization and its maturation. And it has a extremely fresh and zingy flavours you can only enjoy during the beginning of new year.
At Zuma, we have received 5 different Shinshu Sake as a seasonal selection.


1) Mikotsuru Origarami, Junmai 御湖鶴おりがらみ純米
Origin: Nagano
Rice:  Miyamanishiki / Polished ratio: 60% / AVB: 15-16%
The name “Mikotsuru” has the meaning of “a crane flying over the lake.” It was named so because the founder of the brewery had a dream of a crane flying to take a rest. The brewery has nearly hundred years of history, but it was reborn and bloomed into one of the most passionate company by the current president and young staffs in their 20-30s. 
This creamy and buttery textured sake has a lemon candy on the nose and young pineapple and lemon peel on a palate. It can be an introduction for the sake beginners.

2) Takashimizu Shinshu Hatsushibori, Honzojo 高清水新酒初しぼり本醸造
Origin: Akita
Rice: Miyamanishiki / Rice polished ratio: 60% / AVB: 19.5%
Akita Shurui Seizo, producer of Takashimizu brand, is a joined force of Akita’s 12 small sake producers who got together back in 1944 in order to overcome the war-time shortage of ingredients. These breweries gave up their own brands which they inherited and took on the name Takashimizu, the name of the hill on which Akita castle had once stood upon.
Intensely fresh and wild characteristics. You can enjoy the flavours of ripe apple, smoky caramel, and a bit of anise with its strong dry finish. It will be a perfect match with spicy beef, yakitori and baby chicken. 

3) Hatsukame Usunigori Nama, Honjozo 初亀うすにごり生本醸造
Origin: Shizuoka
Rice: Homarefuji   /  Rice polished ratio: 63%  /  AVB: 16%
Hatsukame brewery resides in Okabe-town in Shizuoka prefecture which had been one of the rest areas of 53 stations of the Tokaido, which was a coastal travelling route ran from Edo (current Tokyo) to Kyoto. Its sake has won awards for numerous times and loved by the travellers and the locals since its establishment in 1636.
This first run of fresh sake has an aroma of bursting tropical fruits with its feminine and delicate palate; pear, plum, and coconut water. It goes well with Botanebi and Hotate.

4) Jokigen Kome Label Shinshu, Junmai Ginjo 上喜元 米ラベル新酒 純米吟醸
Origin: Yomagata 
Rice: Oyamanishiki  /  Rice polished ratio: 55%  /  AVB: 16-17% 
Sakata brewery locates in Yamagata prefecture, which is famous for homes of highly evaluated sake in the market. This small but nationally recognized brewery is very passionate for its innovative production by using many different types of rice and koji molds and by introducing new technologies to the production, which has been mostly depended on master brewer’s immeasurable skills rather than quantitatively measured datas and analysis. 
This amazingly fresh sake has nutty and juicy characteristics of Muscat grapes with its lingering long finish.

5) Nanbu Bijin Shiboritate, Tokubestu Junmai 南部美人絞りたて特別純米
Origin: Iwate
Rice:  Gin-otome/  Rice polished ratio: 55%  /  AVB: 15.5% 
The brewery of Nanbu Bijin, translates as Southern Beauty, located in northern Japan's Ninohe City, an area long referred to as "Nanbu no Kuni." It is an area blessed with lush and beautiful natural reserves, fine water, two national parks, and a lake. They are one of the first breweries who introduced premium sake to overseas, and their sake is imported to 25 different countries world wide.
White musk and subtle eucalypts on the nose, you will enjoy the very long finish of juicy melon.

Here are some vocabularies for the new year’s sake. 
Their expressions are different but meanings often over wraps.

= means “New Sake”, Most sake is aged after pressing for about six months to about 18 months. Aging sake makes the Beaujolais Nouveau-like brashness to mellow and round out. Shinshu is sake released without this maturation, and has a brash youthfulness to the flavour. mostly unpasteurized (=Namazake). season from November to February / March.
= “unpasteurized sake”, Almost all sake has been pasteurized twice; once just after brewing, and once again after a maturation period or before shipping. Sake that has not been pasteurized has a zingy, fresh, appealing lilt to the fragrance and flavour. 
=”first press”, unpasteurized (=Namazake).
= “freshly pressed”. unpasteurized (=Namazake).
= "first run". unpasteurized (=Namazake).
= Sake with sediment, Opaque and cloudy Sake
= “slightly cloudy” This is nigorizake that has been pressed so that only a fine mist of lees remains within the bottle