March 2010

New Store Arrivals - Tamagawa, Kasumi Tsuru, Gassanryu, Eiko Fuji and Spring Namas Galore

Posted by Beau Timken in 2010, March, New Store Arrivals, Newsletter
Spring 2010 Nama Zakes Okay people! You have patiently waited for the seasonal release of fresh big and bold spring nama-zakes. And they are now here! BUT they are going fast - very fast! The first flight includes Nama-zakes from Harushika, Shutendouji, Kamikokoro, and Ichinokura breweries. Look for large flavors galore and taste the freshness. Those looking for tight, clean and crisp flavors with a tingle of citrus jump on the Harushika. If you like it fruity but dry and large with a lot of attitude grab a bottle of the Shutendouji "oh oni" - Big Devil. Thinking about a layered and smooth nama with a solid mouthfeel and a hint of fruity sweetness say hello to the Kamikokoro. Lastly, those wanting to explore the immense and dry side of nigori sake try out the Ichinokura, which is dry, crisp and a whopping 19% alcohol.

Again - please note that these sakes are extremely limited and will only be on the shelves for a short while. So get 'em while you can, because it will be another long year before they come back. And lastly, I have made a conscious decision to not apply my specific reviews for these sakes in the this issue as - after so many years of doing - I have come to realize that nama-zake shifts and changes in the bottle at a far greater rate than pasteurized sakes. This means that to write the best review I would have to update it almost weekly. Some of these sakes will indeed taste different by the time they leave the store and that is the way of the nama world!

I am super and extremely pleased to offer a killer Daiginjo from Philip Harper - O ye of sake brewing lore! This brew drinks far more ritzy than its price! I'm extremely proud of PH's efforts over the years and I look forward to you all trying his wares! You will not be disappointed!

Tamagawa "Gold Medal"

From Kyoto Prefecture. Daiginjo
SMV: +4 Acidity: 1.6

The nose on this competition-style Daiginjo is plump with strawberry, melon, Concord grape, peach, sweet rice, and powder sugar aromas. This is a wonderful "wine drinkers" Daiginjo with fruit and acidity pushed by a gentle flintiness that melds minerality with apple and white peach hues. Round and soft with layers of flavors that are extremely well balanced on a solid body that becomes slightly crisper as the temperature warms in the glass. Look for honeydew licks and a very unique mineral personality that emerges in a larger glass, which sets this brew apart. The best part - this tremendous sake is made by my friend Philip Harper - the first gaijin head brewer!

WORD: Deep
WINE: Flinty reds/ crisp whites
BEER: Ales
FOODS: Shellfish, sushi/sashimi, lightly seared white fish, cold chicken.

Kasami Tsuru "Crane of Kasumi"

From Hyogo Prefecture. Yamahai Shiboritate Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu.
SMV: +3.5 Acidity: 2.3

The nose on this super nama is packed with blueberry, melon, wet grass, and syrupy elements. This is a plump and fatty raw sake loaded with ripe and juicy flavors. In a word - it is immense, but never fear because if you don't like massive fruit and acidity rushes then add an ice-cube or enjoy day after day for up to a week. Hidden amongst the 20% alcohol content is a very distinctive and chewy brew that has powder sugar, honeydew, green grape, and honey flavors with hints of semi-bitter elements that drink better than they sound!

WORD: Plump
WINE: Zins/Huge Chardonnays
BEER: Sweet ales
FOODS: Will douse all spices, plays with salty things on sticks, and works with fruit and cheese plates.

Gassanryu "Gokugetsu"

From Yamagata Prefecture. Junmai Daiginjo.
SMV: +1 Acidity: 1.4

This single-pasteurized sake has a very sneaky nose filled with rose pedals, purple grapes, and blueberry elements. Ahhhh smooth and bright! A very unique combination in the sake world. This is a chewy and viscous sake with a gentle tingle that drinks more like a pure nama or unpasteurized sake with a crispness that highlights all of the fruit flavors. A "one of those" sakes that makes one wonder how rice and water can taste like all of these fruity and semi-sweet elements. In a word - a very smart Daiginjo with ripe melon and berry elements that flashes across the palate in a bright fluid that zings flavor and fun!

WORD: Bright
WINE: Zesty reds/ Crisp whites
BEER: Pilsners
FOODS: Sushi/sashimi, grilled white fish, oysters, and shellfish.

Eiko Fuji "Glorious Mt. Fuji"

From Yamagata Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Nama Chozo.
SMV: +3 Acidity: 1.2

The aroma profile on this single pasteurized sake has a suave collection of grape skin, papaya, melon, and peach elements. This is a very elegant, clean, and flavorful sake that has semi- chewy layers of flavors that bounce between melon, peach and blueberry- floating on a mineral water quality. It's a mouthful of flavor with a soft and round finish that ends quickly for so many faces of fruit and fun. In a word this sake is a very good example of a Ginjo in the raw form. For the very "in-tune" this sake used to be a full-nama, but the brewers feel that a single heating makes this sake drink more balanced and stable and we agree. P.S. A good brew for warming but we didn't say that!

WORD: Elegant
WINE: Complex reds/ Minerally whites
BEER: Clean Ales
FOODS: Shellfish, grilled shrimps, lightly flavored pasta, cold chicken, and sushi.

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