Vintage sake is not all that common, but they do exist and serve to showcase the differences in rice harvest years. Kuheiji is a cult brewery from Aichi prefecture spearheading the “next generation” of toji (brewmasters). This is an intense sake with vibrant aromas of ripe citrus fruit, herbs and fennel. There’s a delicate sweetness balanced by lively acidity and solid core of citrus/tropical fruit. Quite complex, and a great companion to the pan-seared Wagu beef and sea salt.
An award-winning junmai daiginjo made in the Hyogo prefecture from the highest-quality Yamadanishiki rice variety with a 50% polish ratio. Subtle aromatics, with hints of fresh Asian pear and suggestions of almond, anise and vanilla with some savoury/herbal overtones. Fresh, lively and off-dry, with fruity/nutty/anise traces reappearing on the palate. Worked well with a delicious deep-fried lamb rack with truffles and wild mushrooms.
Pasteurized only once (most sake is twice pasteurized), this is an intensely fragrant, fresh and aromatic sake boasting traces of ginger and sweet melon. Very crisp and lively in the mouth, its flavours lean towards bright pear and citrus, with some vanilla and banana. Medium-dry with a long, memorable finish, this elegant junmai (which comes across as more junmai gingo — maybe even junmai daiginjo) married beautifully with an ethereal dish of scrambled egg whites, fresh Dungeness crab and silver fungus.
This is a blended sake with the component parts being Gorin Junmai Daiginjo (45% rice polish with no additional alcohol added) and Gorin Junmai (60% rice polish with no additional alcohol) and with a label designed by Junko Koshino. Slightly earthy on the nose with a trace of mushroom and wet slate, but also with a nice fruity component, thereby showing elements of both sake styles. Quite rich and viscous in the mouth with fruity/nutty notes. A nice match with the pan-seared jumbo scallop with truffle cream sauce.
The “50” indicates that the rice grains have been polished to 50% of their original size (a minimum requirement for the top or “daiginjo” classification). Very clean and elegant with gentle honey and Asian pear aromas and subtle suggestion of lychee and apple. Relatively dry and crisply fruity, with mineral notes and a hint of spice on the finish. It paired nicely with a steamed fresh lobster and shrimp dumpling with garlic butter.
Admittedly, I’m still a bit of a newbie when it comes to sake. However, I’ve tasted 3 samples over the past little while that have convinced me that the high-end stuff is not only worth serious consideration, but that when it comes to sake, you really do get what you pay for. This number from Shata Shuzo displays intriguing aromas of subtle vanilla, mineral, pear, pumpkin seed, sea breeze, mushroom and earth. Flavours lean toward fruity/earthy, with hints of almond and brine. Round and silky, with a refreshing balance of acidity and mild bitterness.
Fresh, clean, forward and mildly fruity/floral aromas with hints of marzipan, candied almond, banana, a dash of pepper and subtle, earthy/mineral nuances. Creamy on the palate, with bright acidity and some suggestions of tropical fruit. The finish is surprisingly long, with a peppery, even slightly spritzy end notes. Leave your sake bias at the door and try this stuff!