ichishima_2.jpgWinebow is a importing company that focuses mostly on bringing great Italian Wines to the U.S. Of late, they have made a move into the world of sake! Currently importing two diverse portfolios, one from Akita and one from Niigata, more sake brought into the States is a win for everyone. I had a chance to taste both portfolios at their September “Vintner’s Harvest” event. Lucky for me, the sake table was right near the entrance. Let’s take a look at their offering…

sake_1.jpgIchishima Brewery from Niigata presented an impressive portfolio of sakes that give new meaning to the idea of “vertical tasting!” From soup to nuts you can try just about every type of sake from this one brewery. It’s a bold and welcome move. Here is a listing of all the sakes Ichishima-san is now importing:

From Ichishima Brewery: Futsu-shu, Honjozo, Junmai, Junmai “silk deluxe”, Junmai Ginjo, Junmai Genshu, Daiginjo, Ginjo Koshu, Competition Daiginjo.

Of the above offering a few sakes in particular caught my attention. First, the standard Junmai was a real standout in my opinion. It was a classic junmai with structure and substance yet with a soft hand that is so indicative of Niigata goodness. Also, the Competition Daiginjo was certainly of note. It had all the presence and flourish you would expect from a competition brew. yet, this sake wasn’t overwhelming or too in your face. A great chance to try competition sake, which is often hard to come by. Speaking of hard to come by, Ichishima-san is also importing his brewery’s Futshu-shu. This type of sake is incredibly rare in the states as it is usually considered a ‘non-premium’ sake, but this hearty Ishishima brew makes me dream of pairing combinations with each sip. I know this one will be great with food! oh yeah.

linda_claudioWinebow also imports a range of sakes from Akita Prefecture.

This band of merry sake brewers is known as A.S.P.E.C. (Akita Sake Promotion & Export Council) with Linda Noel Kawabata working as Brand Manager. Our friend and Akita native Chizuko-san was also on hand in beautiful Kimono to help introduce these sakes.

Linda-san introduced me to some wonderful Akita sakes, some that I knew and some I’m having for the first time. Let’s take a look at the ASPEC offering…

Suzuki Shuzoten: Hideyoshi Namacho Honjozo, Hideyoshi Amakarapin Junmai, Hideyoshi Honjozo, Hideyoshi Akinota Junmai Ginjo, Hideyoshi Flying Pegasus Koshu Daiginjo.

Tenju Shuzo: Chokaisan junmai Daiginjo

Hinomaru Jozo: Manabita Kimoto Junmai Ginjo, Manabito Junmai Daiginjo.

Akita Seishu: Desatsuru Kimoto Junmai, Dewatsuru Habataki junmai Ginjo, Dewatsuru Matsukura Tokubetsu Junmai, Dewatsuru Hihaku junmai Daiginjo.

Naba Shoten: Minato “harbor” Tsuchizaki Yamahai Futsu-shu, Minato “harbor” Tuchizaki Yamahai Nama Genshu, Horoyoi Junmai Ginjo

chizuko_1.jpgEasily the Hideyoshi “Flying Pegasus” koshu Daiginjo made one of the biggest impressions. Suzuki Shuzoten brewery only makes about 300 bottles a year, so this is easily what you could call a “limited release”! The presentation of this sake begins with the bottle which is shaped like a simple old fashioned gourd tokkuri, but in this case with a golden sheen. The taste is impactful and precious with a strong nose and off dry palate. a lot to take in… I’d love to take a bottle home some day!

In addition, I loved seeing again the Dewatsuru Hihaku Junmai Dainginjo. This sake is elegant and lightly fruity… so easy to drink and very, very easy to enjoy.  I also enjoyed some sakes that I have had at previous Akita sake Club Events including Chokaisan Junmai Daiginjo and The Manabito Kimoto Junmai Ginjo and the Manabito Junmai Daiginjo, both with a touch of dryness that begs to be used in food pairing. fantastic!

All in all, this Winebow event was fantastic and so encouraging to see traditional wine importers branching out to include some of the world’s best sake in their portfolios! Keep the sakes coming and here is a big old Kanpai to that!

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