May 2007

Sake Spotlight - Michael Pataran Looks At Tenzan

Posted by admin in 2007, May, Newsletter, Sake Spotlight

sake spotlight may 2007Michael Pataran is the Executive Chef of the prestigious Windsor Arms Hotel - Canada's premier boutique hotel in Toronto, Ontario. In 2006 Michael started MP Culinary & Sake Consultation to help educate Toronto's hospitality industry on the world of sake. Michael has written many sake and food based articles for Toronto and Canada's top industry publication; and is committed to the education and promotion of sake within the Canadian marketplace. In a word he is a preacher of all things sake and his foodie background allows him to get a leg up in the food and sake-pairing arena.

Michael decided to review one of our top selling Junmais that talks the talk and walks the walk - Tenzan. So take it away our Canadian sake brother:

Sake Night in CanadaSo it's been a long, bone-chilling winter up here in the "Great White North" - a cliché, yet true. The thought of sun-drenched summer patios and chic sakétinis is still a world away. Hey! - What better of a time to start fine-tuning your sake palate and knowledge? After all, 2007 will be the "summer of sake" in Canada - oh will! You see; sake in Canada (due to various reasons) has still not hit the big time spotlight. While bubbling under in the mainstream beverage scene it occasionally surfaces in trendy martini concoctions at the elite hot spots, elite dining venues and high-end sushi restaurants.This however is slowly starting change. With more private alcohol agencies starting to import premium sake, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has noticed this and is starting to follow suit. Talks of sake booms in New York and LA are making waves north of the border as consumers are starting to turn their heads to take note of this super refined and complex beverage. There is a very small (yet vigilant) contingency of sake partisans that continue to bang the drum in hopes that others will soon wake up out of their chardonnay daze and indulge them-selves into the vast sake universe.

The time has come people to lay down the piping hot drab served in thimble like ochoko and embrace the lovely structure and characteristics of a premium "reishu" (chilled sake). With tantalizing flavor aromas of supple stone fruits, apple, melon, lychee, coconut and bubblegum, it's quite amazing that sake is still a cherished secret to be enjoyed by such few. As with misunderstood things in life, it all starts with proper information and education; from that point on its time for common sense to kick in and the actual quality of the product do the rest.

Name: Tenzan "Heaven's Mountain" Junmai Genshu Jizake
Kura: Tenzan Breweries
Pref: Saga (Kyushu)
Alc: 18%
Rice: Saikai 134
SMV: +2
Price: $23.95/720 ml. (Canada)
Serving Temp: 35° F to 45° F (2° C to 7° C)

I love sake made in the genshu style, and this one is a phenomenal value. Genshu at only 18% alcohol is still considered low for a Genshu style so this one makes a great introductory leap into the world of genshu. A slight yellow tinge leads to an explosive aroma of bubblegum, candied fruit and soft coconut. The junmai style with 30% rice milling rate allows for the "koku" (terroir) of Saga Prefecture to show through with its firm acidity and deep, expansive character. Simple yet complex (as a good sake should be) the flavor gives to a sweet rice, koji and caramel finish with after notes of pear and lychee; exceptional packaging as well in the attractive banana sheath - the perfect sake to bring to your next gathering.

Food Pairing:
A great food sake due to it's ability to have a deep impact and stand up to bigger flavors. This offering begs for the likes of creamy, rich sea urchin, oysters and kabayaki eel. A sweet and savory chawan mushi with corn or truffle will also pull the trigger and unleash the underlying effects of the koji tones and heighten the overall dynamic.

Thank you very much eh! And as much as I promised myself that I would not say the word "hoser" (ala Bob and Doug McKenzie) I must now call Michael a "hoser" for putting that price point in his review! Damn! How in the world do they sell this great sake for $23? We here down south are a bit dyslexic and must sell this Genshu for $32 and that is with our usual low mark-up. There must be some sort of currency or tax or dyslexic or dumping reason for this very low price, and I will get to the bottom of it!

That said we sell boatloads of this brew. Why? It drinks well and looks smashing! You cannot discuss this sake without speaking to its packaging. Totally unique looking and really cool this sake is in the top 5 gift giving brews category. But alas the True Sake credo - "We will never sell a sake that looks great but doesn't drink great!" Herewith is my review of a truly drinkable Junmai that surprisingly heats up very well and is great with huge flavored foods.

Tenzan - "Mt. Tenzan"
Saga Prefecture.
Junmai Genshu.
SMV: +2 Rice: Saikai No. 134 milled to 65%.
This Junmai genshu (undiluted) is the hands down winner of packaging in the sake world. Thankfully what rests inside is just as cool. With a soft fruity nose of bananas and melons, this sake has an off- gold appearance. From the first big introduction to the final goodbye this genshu is deep and expansive. Flavors from bananas, melons, and crushed leaves run throughout the mouth in a dry and solid transition. The viscosity and full-bodied flavor would appeal to any red wine drinker with a taste for flavor forward sakes that "talk-the-talk". Play with the temperature and find more layers and a deeper feel.
WORD: Full Bodied
WINE: Big Reds/Fat Whites
BEER: Stouts/Guinness
FOODS: Sautéed salmon, sweet and sour pork, fried chicken, sukiyaki, burgers.

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