February 2007

New Store Arrivals - The Spring Nama Sampler

Posted by Beau Timken in 2007, February, New Store Arrivals, Newsletter

sake clubYes, it is that time of year again. Time for freshly released Nama (unpasteurized) sakes to reach our shelves. Again, we at True Sake are very proud to continually push our importers to bring in more Nama- sakes so that you have a wider drinking appreciation of sakes that have not be heated the typical two times. By all means Nama-sake is not the end-all-be-all, but it is a great way to explore rice and water. There are many hidden aspects to Nama-sakes that you do not find in two pasteurized brews. For example, Nama-sake sometimes has a very unique green tinge to it - a very light Granny-Smith color not found in heated sakes. Also there is a freshness factor that manifests itself in young and crisp tones, a snap of sorts.

I like to tell drinkers that Nama-sakes are a little more raw than pasteurized brews. They have a brightness and at times a bigness that their fellow heated brews do not posses. I often say a 3-D flavor and feeling aspect pervades your typical Nama drinking experience. In terms of quantifying US and (western) palates, it has become evident that most drinkers prefer the largeness quality to Nama-sakes, those big and bold elements, as apposed to more subtle Nama qualities.

In this regards, we have three new brews that speak to those who like it dry, crisp and full-bodied semi-sweet. If you want a dry and clean experience be certain to try the Harushika Junmai Ginjo. Those looking for depth, semi-dryness, and a food pairing powerhouse try the Nama- Genshu called "Oh Oni" "Big Devil" from Shutendouji. And of course those looking for the thick, fat, full-bodied semi-sweet experience hook into the Junmai Genshu from Kamikokoro, and feel the goodness. The last two are undiluted sakes that carry an alcohol content of between 17-18%, which makes for some very vast flavors.

Harushika Shiboribana "Spring Deer" 
Nara Prefecture.
Nama Junmai Ginjo.
SMV: +2.5 Acidity: 1.4
This dry unpasteurized Ginjo has a vibrant nose filled with sweet rice, white grape, and green melon elements. If you like your fresh sake on the dry side, this brew is for you as the clean crisp dryness offers a stop-gap finish. There is no real aftertaste or tail as all of the subtle fruit tones like champagne grapes and green apple stay forward in the flow. A great example of a "compact" and "tightly" flavored sake that has tones of crispness and drinks incredibly fresh.
WINE: Crisp whites/tight reds
BEER: Crisp Pilsners
FOODS: Look for salty and fresh fare and think clean cuisine like sushi.
Shutendouji Oh Oni "Big Devil" 
Kyoto Prefecture.
Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu.
SMV: +4 Acidity: 1.8
This bright unpasteurized Ginjo has a vast aroma profile with hints of powder sugar, kiwi, sweet rice and tropical night winds. Talk about a young fresh brew, this Nama is raw and crisp with a nice "pop" that is a great introduction to freshly made sake. There is a tease of rich fruit tones, but the overall experience is long and on the dry side. (It gets more fruity near room temp.) There is a pronounced acidity that would appeal to red wine drinkers, and keep a look out for a flow of minerality and tart fruit flavors such as star fruit, and green mango. Big, dry and young!
WORD: Fresh
WINE: Beaujolais
BEER: Stouts
FOODS: Extremely food friendly, the larger the flavor the better the pairing.
Kamikokoro Toukagen Shiboritate "Sound of Seashore"
Okayama Prefecture.
Tokubetsu Junmai Nama Genshu.
SMV: -11.5 Acidity: 1.4
This fat and fruity unpasteurized sake has subtle nose made up of honey, sweet rice, citrus and leather elements. Man! Talk about a solid and chunky Nama sake, this big and bodacious Junmai drinks far too smooth for all of the flavor action. The key is that the acidity is perfectly balanced and that is why all of the ripe, plump, and full-bodied fruit tones drink smooth and round. If you like a little sweetness and a lot of complexity this undiluted (17%) nama is a velvety dream come true.
WORD: Toot-Sweet
WINE: Beaujolais
BEER: Sweet Ales
FOODS: Anything from the grill, spicy or oily fare.

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