ohyama nigori and programThe Sake retailer closest to my house, Landmark Wine & Sake, was hosting another afternoon sake tasting seminar. The last one I attended in April ’06, was great, and I knew this one would be, too.

Mr. Kazu Yamazaki of the Japan Prestige Sake Association lead the seminar and gave his comments on each sake as they were passed around. Mariko Yamazaki, also from Prestige and Kane from Landmark were also on hand and helped with the serving. There was a fun food item to go with each sake course and they did the smart thing and kept the food simple. I think it’s best to work with pure flavors when pairing.

Kazu-san gave us a detailed overview of the sake production process along with a flow chart diagram that took us from Brown Rice to Shipping. He Also gave us a bit of background on each sake, some history of sake and also answered a lot of questions. Once the sake starts flowing so does the conversation.

here is a quick overview of the sakes served in the order they were presented:

mr_yamazaki.jpgSTAR.png Ohyama Nigori: “Big Mountain”, SMV +6, Acidity 1.3, Yamagata Prefecture.
STAR.png Tsukinokatsura Nigori: “Eternal Tree on the Moon”, SMV +3, Acidity: 1.7, Kyoto Prefecture.
STAR.png Mineno Hakubai Ginjo Namacho: “White Plum Blossom”, SMV +4, Acidity: 1.1, Niigata Prefecture.

STAR.png Umenishiki Daiginjo Nama: “Gorgeous Plum”, SMV +3.5, Acidity: 1.5, Ehime Prefecture.

STAR.png Kariho Namahage Junmai: “Devil’s Mask”, SMV +17, Acidity: 1.7, Akita Prefecture.

STAR.png Suishin Junmai: “Drunken Heart”, SMV +3 Acidity: 1.8, Hiroshima Prefecture.

STAR.png Wakatake Onikoroshi Ginjo: “Demon Slayer”, SMV +3, Acidity: 1.5, Shizuoka Prefecture.

harushika_daiginjo.jpgSTAR.png Shiratake Jozen Mizunogotoshi Ginjo: “Pure Flavor”, SMV +3, Acidity: 1.4, Niigata Prefecture.

STAR.png Harushika Daiginjo: “Spring Deer”, SMV +2.5, Acidity: 1.3, Nara Prefecture.

STAR.png Hitorimusume Shizuku Daiginjo: “Only One Daughter”, SMV +5, Acidity: 1.5, Ibaraki Prefecture.

STAR.png Ichinokura Himezen Junmai: “Ace Brewery Princess”, SMV -65, Acidity: 5, Miyagi Prefecture.

STAR.png Hanahato Kijoshu: “Gorgeous BIrd”, SMV -44, Acidity: 3.5, Hiroshima Prefecture.

hananato_kijoshu.jpgI’ve sampled many of these sakes before, but there were some real standouts I would love to explore further. First, I really enjoyed the Ohyama Nigori. This Nigori was surprisingly light and fluffy for a nigori. The palate was dry and clean. Nigoris are usually all about the texture and for me, this one was about the taste!

The next sake to really catch my attention is a favorite of mind that didn’t disappoint: Umenishiki Daiginjo Nama. This is a rare daiginjo Draft sake and the flavors are really spectacular. Fruity-tootie yet elegant.

umenishiki.jpgLastly, I really enjoyed the Hitorimusume Shizuku Daiginjo. This sake was aromatic, fragrant and flavorful. A very smooth and complex Daiginjo, this was one of the best.

A final surprise of the evening was dessert! Soon to open in Hell’s Kitchen, the folks from Kyotofu stopped by and presented some delicious snacks to end our tasting. Now, I’m not one to jump on the tofu bandwagon all too often, but these yummy tidbits really rocked. Can’t wait until they open! Word on the street is they will serve some sakes to go with the desserts – sounds like my kinda place!

Well, Landmark hit it out of the park again. I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the selection and pairings that were put together. I’m pretty lucky to have such a quality sake resource just a few blocks away from me – right in my neighborhood! …Well, I do know there are three Key Factors to finding truly the best sake that is most suited to you: Location, Location, Location.

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