Thirsty Thursday: Saké: Harushika Junmai Daiginjo, Nara, Japan

I know near to nothing about saké. I never review it. But secretly, this wine geek loves it. Every time I drink it, regardless of quality, it fascinates.

Saké is not beer, but it is brewed grains. Saké is not wine, but alcohols also average in the tweens. Truly, any comparisons fall apart. For saké is uniquely Japanese: like Kimonos, matcha green tea, or Godzilla…taking a tea (?) break between destroying cities:

Godzilla Sake breakAt sake’s core is rice, water, and a combo attack of mold and yeast. After different polishing levels have removed outer proteins, oils, and nasty congeners, the starchy core rests, then gets steeped, followed by a dual ferment with mold (Aspergillus oryzae) and yeast (wine’s old friend: Saccharomyces cerevisiae).  Things get increasingly complicated: fancy saké ferments cool, volume is expanded with staggered additions of water and rice, carbon filtering, multiple pasturizations, a rest, final watering down to 15%, and aging….and breath.

This Thirsty Thursday’s saké comes from the Nara Prefecture:

japan_travel_nara_lpJust South of Kyoto, Nara is home to famed Shinto and Buddhist temples, and adorable, adorable, (somewhat vagrant) deer:

Nara adorable deerAppropriately, today’s saké, Harushika, translates into Spring Deer (founded in 1884). This is its Daiginjo grade, the highest level, which means 50% of the grain has been polished away, leaving only the sexy, starchy core behind.

Sake Harushika Junmai Daiginjo Nara JapanAppearance: It looks glass-clear and colorless.

Aromas: Complexity is an overused word, but not here. Light honey, lychee, and melon aromas play off bold fennel, aniseed, and caramel.

Palate: Perfectly synced medium sweetness lines up with refreshing acidity, coupled with an intense, eye-widening, palate seeking, clean alcohol that fills and warms the palate. The body feels medium plus. The texture is creamy.

Flavors: all-encompassing lychee, white honey, marzipan, sweet rice, rose petals.  Insanely complex, long, yet not overpowering.

Conclusions: Indirectly, Harushika’s Daiginjo reminds me of a fantastic Hefeweizen or Gewurztraminer: equally refreshing as it is showy and demanding.  Its quality, in my uneducated opinion, is outstanding (5 of 5).  So is the price: starting at $55.  But perfection has no price.

 

About Aaron Bartels

Follow Wayward Wine (WSET3) to tour the world's exciting vineyards, breweries, and distilleries, while discovering new drinks.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Thirsty Thursday: Saké: Harushika Junmai Daiginjo, Nara, Japan

  1. asueba says:

    Whenever I need a break from wine and vodka, I drink Sake. Delicious alcohol. Have not drank one I do not like. Oh dear….I like Shoju and Awamori too. Damn!

  2. I often wonder why I only drink sake with Sushi. I can easily see it as a back porch sipper on a warn summer evening. Hmmm… might have to try that tomorrow night.

  3. sand110 says:

    Never have tried a 5/5 Sake, 15%, definitely slow sipping while watching deer moment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s