Walter says: The category of sparkling sake is still a young one, and possibly that’s the reason it is more popular abroad than in Japan. However there is a traditional context to it. Originally many Japanese used to make a simple rice brew at home, called doburoku. When alcohol tax was introduced during the Meji era (1868-1912) that practice was declared illegal. The doburoku style gave way to nigorizake, cloudy sake, somewhat similar to fresh, fermenting wine due to the only partial removal of lees to reinforce the yeasty aroma. Lately the market has seen a growing number of variations on that theme, some of them with a markedly higher CO2 content, sometimes off-dry, often downright sweet. Read More
Walter says: This month we’re introducing you to one of the sake world’s secret stars: Urakasumi or Misty Bay, as it is called on the export label. There is hardly another sake or another sake brewery with an equal record of national and international awards that would still be available at this affordable price. Urakasumi is run by the 13th generation and one of northern Japan’s most important sake representatives. Since its foundation in 1724 the brewery has also been providing the holy sake for the famous shrine in Shiogama. Read More
Walter says: For February we chose two Junmaishu which are quite acidity-driven, though with Sake that still tastes rather mild compared to white wine, a fact that’s convinced many who were looking for something more elegant than beer to have with their meal.
You’ll recall that we introduced you to the Gokyo brewery’s Kimoto last month. As for that rather bold sake they work exclusively with regionally produced rice for the Junmaishu. Round acidity is balanced by a very fine umami note, which makes for a very “clear” finish – something that is much appreciated and highly rated amongst sake connoisseurs. And due to the soft water Gokyo uses the mouthfeel is delicate. A prototype of a Junmaishu (for which rice is polished less than for the Ginjos) with a very distinctive character. Personally it is especially this diversity of all the different Junmaishu that makes Sake exciting for me. Enjoy chilled, but also warm to a wide range of dishes.
Walter says: After the super elegant finale of the old year we start the new one with two bold, strong sake to counter the grey, rather dark days of January. First one of my favourites, the Extra-Dry from Harushika. It stems from Nara, Japan’s old capital (710-784), famous for its numerous ancient temples and wooden shrines – but also for the tame wild deer roaming the city and searching visitors’ pockets for victuals.
Walter says: To fit with the season, for this month we selected two daiginjo sake, from Sogen and Ichinikura. Daiginjo means that the rice is polished to just 40 percent of the initial grain, leaving only the inner part. This inner part is full of concentrated aromas that make the sake taste quite full, but at the same time very elegant. Read More
Walter says: Last time we presented a summer sake – even if we were a bit late due to the pandemic. This time we’re pouring two seasonal sake. Some basics: there are three, sometimes four different seasonal sake, and the last one in the year’s cycle, for autumn, is Hiyaoroshi. It undergoes just one quick pasteurisation after the brewing in spring, allowing for an expressive liveliness. At the same time it’s also left to mature until fall, making it more gentle and fuller in taste – both in combination pairs well with autumnal cooking and mood.
Walter says: Our project starts with Tsukasa Botan, a brewery founded in 1603 on Shikoku. Shikoku, Japan’s fourth largest main island, is not exactly known for sake, and there are not many breweries there, but the many fishermen are known for their high per capita consumption. This comes pretty close to our own motto: A sake is good if we want to empty the bottle! Tsukasa Botan simply inspires us. These sakes can appear robust and energetic, but they are never clumsy or dull, simply always “honest”.
It all began last summer in Berlin: Walter Britz, a recognized authority on Japanese food and culture, comes to a party with three half-full bottles of summer sake. Ursula Heinzelmann, sommelière and cheese freak (her brand name is Heinzelcheese), is irritated at first – wine leftovers, what a miser! – and then totally enthusiastic about these unpasteurised Sakes. Cheese will go so well with it… Read More