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Top Sake Picks of Gunma

I decided to divide this up a bit.  First I want to make a special mention about  one particular sake I tried from a brewer I was introduced to a few years ago by a guy in Kamakura.   I remember walking around one day and came across an old liquor shop with a very small, yet modest selection of sake.  One particular sake he brought to my attention was brewed in Niigata prefecture, Kashiwa city which goes by the name of Harashuzou.  I recall that sake being one of, if not the best sake I have ever tasted, so when I went to Gunma and Niigata last weekend and was offered a bottle by the restaurant owner in Niigata the kanji looked vaguely familiar to me, and then a light went off in my head.  Harashuzou! 

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This sake is called a namachozoushu [ nama-cho-zoushu]生貯蔵酒, which basically means that it was only pasteurized once.  What a wonderfully soft and crisp sake that could easily work well with dishes such as maitake tempura, salmon,  and even soba, all of which Niigata is famous for.  The brand for this sake is called Koshi-no-Homare and can be ordered through rakuten – they are sold out now I think.  Old favorites mysteriously always find me again no matter where I travel in Japan.  SMV is plus 5 and acidity is 0.9. 

 

After drinking two of these sake I headed back down to  Gunma prefecture, one stop, and took a nice walk around Jomo Kogen, which is in only about a 10 to 15 minute shinkansen ride.  One thing I really love about old towns  and rural hamlets like these are the trains.

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After arriving back to Jomo Kogen station I visited a sake shop that had some excellent sake selections on display.   I drank three very good sake and all of them were brewed by Mizubashou Kura(cellar) of Nagai Shuzo in Gunma. 

The water used for these three sake were born from the snow deep in the Gunma mountains, the same mineral waters that feed the Ozegahara, a high altitude marshland in the Oze National Park that’s famous for a flower called Mizu-Basho(skunk-cabbage).

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Purple label is the Junmai Ginjo version with a nice complex flavor and texture.

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Tanigawadake Chou-karakuchi-junmaishu(green label; super dry) I really enjoyed the clean finish on this one.  Same kura, different line.

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My top favorite was this mizubashou Junmai. I really enjoyed the taste of rice and the texture was perfect.  I was thoroughly satisfied with all three of these sake. 

If every you want to try a real winner from this part of Japan you can’t go wrong with Mizubashou!

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