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Sake Spotlight - W. Blake Gray Looks At Umenishiki Nama Junmai Dai Ginjo

sake spotlight aug 2007"Sake Spotlight" is a unique section within the Newsletter that takes a closer look at specific sakes that may be purchased at True Sake. I approach different professionals within the industry to give their perspectives and insights to the how, what and why's for very special sakes. These insiders are importers, brewers, authors, sake sommeliers, or just enthusiasts who will take your knowledge base a little further. What I like about this segment is that often my review is quite different than that of the guest professional's adding to the point that there is no right or wrong when discussing your opinion about sake.

This month I approached my buddy Blake Gray who is a wine writer for the San Francisco Chronicle to write about one of our more unique sakes at True Sake. He was doing a "What's In Your Glass" column for the Chronicle and we decided to kill two birds with one stone by selecting a sake that has a "story." So what follows is Blake's take for the paper plus a bonus recorded review of this brew.

W. Blake Gray lived in Japan for most of the 1990s and wrote about sake long before he started writing about wine for the San Francisco Chronicle. He also has written for Food & Wine magazine and Wine & Spirits. Blake's wife Mami is Japanese and is a food-and-wine blogger herself. He prefers drier sakes while Mami likes a touch of sweetness. Both of them are delighted that good sake has become much easier to obtain in the last five years. Blake believes that as sake continues to crack the wine lists of non-Japanese restaurants, we're finally moving away from the "wine-cooler" era of sake cocktails into a wider understanding of just how great sake really is. (This was crafted by Blake as an introduction)

So take it away Blake and take a Spotlight to Umenishiki Nama Junmai Dai Ginjo:

To listen to Blake review this sake click this link.Or to read what Blake wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle click on this link. Scroll down the page until you see the "Sipping News"

If you do not like clicking links then this is what Blake crafted:

Umenishiki Nama Junmai Daiginjo sake ($23 for 500ml)What sold us:This summery sake is an unusual one from the Japanese island of Shikoku. "Nama" means unpasteurized; nama sakes typically have fresh fruit flavors. But nama daiginjos are rare. A daiginjo sake is brewed from rice that has been ground down to 50 percent or less of its original size. The process is supposed to reduce impurities and leads to creamy, ethereal, fragrant sakes -- at odds with the typical nama taste profile. This sake combines the fresh green melon flavors you might expect from a nama with the fresh cream flavors you might expect from a daiginjo. That may sound like dessert, but it's actually on the dry side and delicious with sashimi.

Where to find:

True Sake (San Francisco)

-- W. Blake Gray

Thank you very much Blake! I have been selling this brew for four years now, and three of those years I have been scratching my head and asking myself why? No not why do I sell it, but rather why do they make it? Why make a Nama Dai Ginjo? It just seems sort of confusing to me. And for three years I didn't see the magic, but this year I did! Herewith is my review and please keep in mind we only have two more cases of this seasonal sake:

Umenishiki "Gorgeous Plum" 
From Ehime Prefecture.
Nama Junmai Dai Ginjo.
SMV: +4 Acidity: 1.2
This extremely elegant Nama Dai Ginjo (not many of those around) has a lively nose with hints of cherry, grape, vanilla and sea salt tones. Think clean and fruity when trying a Nama that is built to enhance the subtleties found in Dai Ginjo sake. The tip of the tongue stays fruity whilst the finish is semi-dry and everything in between captures nuanced elements such as apple, mango and ripe plum expressions. Round, creamy, and soft this "high end" Nama captures an elegance not found in too many raw sakes.
WORD: Elegant
WINE: Pinot Noir/ Dry whites
BEER: Belgian Ales
FOODS: Sushi, sashimi, gently flavored cuisines.

This was my favorite Nama of the 4 summer Nama releases!

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