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August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...

しゅわっち 純米吟醸 活性にごり

The name is Shuwacchi ( shu-wa-chi), and it's a junmai ginjo kasseishu nigori.  What that basically means is that it's a premium unfiltered milky colored sparkling sake with active enzymes.   Again, this is another summer season type sake as you can see from the colorful label on the bottle.   Summers are famous for ginjo type sake, so here's to summer. 

Look at how she stands so tall and beautiful, against the vast expanse of blueness and white clouds; etherized.  Neatly adorned in her robe and warmly cold.
This is  a nama variety which means it needs refrigeration since it's unpasteurized and has enzymes which are active and alive. How that translates in to flavor is quite noticeable; refreshing, fruity, and a bit gassy.  Whenever in Japan and you are faced with that difficult choice about what to drink then always go with a "nama" because most good ones are hard to come by, this is one of them. 

The name of the brewery where this sake is brewed is called 上喜元/Jyoukigen in Sakata City, Yamagata Prefecture, in the Tohoku region.

For those of you who have never been to this part of Japan I highly recommend visiting here either in early spring where you can  see snow clad pink plum blossoms change into cherry blossoms, or during the dead of winter when the rugged majestic mountains are capped with powdery white snow.   That plus a nice hot mineral rich outdoor bath and some sake are what life is all about.  All carved out by the hands of an ancient god I presume - it had to be.

I'm patient.  I can wait.  For now I just want to enjoy summer with this deliciously refreshing nihonshu.

Those who aren't quite familiar with sake levels let me give you just a enough information to get you going.  Again, the sake I am drinking is a junmai ginjo-shu.  It's a grade of premium sake made with rice milled to at least 60% of its original size  from rice, water, and koji only!  Other grades tend to have an infusion of alcohol added to it in order to create a more complex taste and texture.

The rice used to make this sake is called Yamada Nishiki which is generally regarded as the best sake rice for its texture.  The koji mold used is produced in Yamagata and provides saccharification to the nihonshu.   The Seimai Buai is at around 50%, which indicated how much  rice is used in a given sake. 

Flavor profiles are more emotional, less associative.  We aren't talking about bananas,  pear noses, and stuff like that.  Just refreshing summer notes here.  Clean, gassy, and refreshing.  Again, I will reiterate, these " nama" rare sake types sell out so quickly.  I cannot begin to stress that when given a chance to try sake, drink "nama" types as most of them cannot be kept for prolonged periods of time.    The nihonshudo is plus 2.   Enjoy!


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