Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saké Sunday: UNLVino & SakeOne

At most Grand Wine Tastings, you are lucky to find a single table with some Saké. That was certainly the case at the Boston Wine Expo. But it was a special treat at the recent UNLVino to find six tables devoted to Saké. Six!!!

I was already familiar with some of the Saké but some was very new to me as well. I was quite eager to try the unfamiliar Saké, to find some new treasures. And I was not disappointed. There were a number of excellent Sakés to be found.

The first table belonged to SakeOne, a Saké brewery located in Oregon. I was already familiar with most of their Momokawa and Moonstone brands. Their Momokawa Saké are primarily Junmai Ginjos, though they have a Nigori as well. Their Moonstone line are infused Sakés, with flavors including Asian Pear, Raspberry, Plum and Coconut Lemongrass. Both of their lines are produced in Oregon.

Of their line, I had not tried before the G Joy, a Junmai Ginjo Genshu ($20). The G line is intended to cater to American palates. I found this Saké to be very smooth, with lots of fruit on the nose and palate. A very easy drinking style that lacks any rice flavors or aromas. I can understand why this is supposed to appeal more to an American palate, especially those who have little experience with Saké. It certainly is a pleasing Saké which should appeal to a wide audience.

I also tried a cocktail made with the Moonstone Coconut Lemongrass called Asian Equation. This cocktail is made with 1 1/2 parts Moonstone Coconut Lemongrass, 1 1/2 parts Ty Ku, and 1 part sweet and sour mix. It is then served on the rocks. The Moonstone Coconut Lemongrass is a Nigori Genshu, so it has some sweetness in it. The cocktail itself was quite interesting, with a rich coconut flavor (which I love) and it was not overly sweet. It also had hints of other fruits as well, due to the Ty Ku. This would make a good summer drink.

SakeOne also imports Saké through a partnership with Momokawa Brewing in Japan. The Murai family owns the Momokawa brewery and have given their name to a line of imported Saké, the Murai Family. The Murai Family line makes a variety of different Sakés, from Nigori to Dai Ginjo.

I first got to taste the Murai Family Tokubetsu Honjozo ($29 for 720ml). This Saké had a strong rice smell though on the palate the rice taste was much milder. It also was very smooth and had some interesting fruit flavors and a touch of herbal notes. I enjoyed this Saké though it might not appeal to those new to Saké, those not used to strong rice aromas. A good price for this quality of Saké.

I then got to taste the Murai Family Daiginjo ($69). This is their highest quality Saké. 65% of the rice grain has been polished away. This Saké had a fascinating nose, with a unique blend of fruity and floral aromas. The taste also contained fruity and floral elements in a well balanced mix. It was a smooth Saké with a long finish and plenty of complexity. It had a rich body and definitely would be good paired with light foods. Again, this is not a Saké that is going to appeal to the newcomer to Saké, but those who are already fans should definitely appreciate this fine Saké.

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