Shouchikubai Daiginjou Sake from California grown Yamdanishi 松竹梅大吟醸,米国産山田錦

japanese cake

Last time I posted G-sake and G-sake Fifty from SakeOne, Gordon kindly let me know that Takara Sake Co. 宝酒造 in Berkley were finally growing Yamada-nishiki 山田錦  in the Sacramento valley and were producing Junmai Daiginjo 純米大吟醸 . After some effort we finally got a few bottles directly from Takara. After I received my shipment, they restricted purchases to one bottle per order and then finally indicated they were out of stock. So, I guess, I was lucky.

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The label reads, “Sho Chiku Bai*” Junmai Daiginjo 松竹梅純米大吟醸 brewed exclusively from California-grown Yamada-nishi 米国産山田錦全量 (polished to 45%). It is “unfiltered” Genshu 無濾過原酒 (i.e., undiluted with alcohol content of 16%) and is limited release 限定品. It had handwritten numbers and batch code(?) on the label.

*”Sho Chiku Bai” means Pine-Bamboo-Plum.This combination is considered a very auspicious in Japanese culture.

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It happened that I received the sake just before a long holiday weekend and marked by some exquisitely pleasant sunny days. Consequently we had this tasting outside. As usual, we needed “otoshi” drinking snacks to enjoy this sake. I prepared a trio. From left to right; green asparagus (blanched) and chicken breast (barbecued in Weber, hand shredded) with “kimisu” 黄身酢 (egg yolk vinegar dressing), sashimi squid (frozen package) dressed with soy sauce, real wasabi and tobiko roe, and finally white asparagus with cream sauce (cream and reduced asparagus cooking liquid and butter).

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This time, the  “kimisu” I made is a bit thicker and richer than before.

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For frozen, the squid was not too bad and tobiko roe added an interesting texture.

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The white asparagus requires a bit more preparation and cooking but the end result is sublime. The sauce really makes it…we didn’t leave any behind.

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Now we were ready for sake tasting. We served this sake chilled. The color was clear. The sake had some floral aroma (Daiginjo smell), was nice and subtle with no distracting yeastiness. The palate was very clean with some subtle melon/apple and a hint of “umami” savory taste finishing with a slight sweet note.  It had a classic Yamada-nishiki daiginjo taste; clear and elegant. This one, I sensed, had a slightly bit more savory component than other daiginjo brewed from Yamada-nishiki such as our house sake “Mu” 無from Yaegaki 八重垣.

Albeit that this sake represented a very different price point, compared to recent batches of G-sake and G-sake fifty, this Sho Chiku Bai has a definitely more authentic daiginjo flavor profile and we like it much better. It is so smooth and easy to drink. Although we do not know what kind of California rice G-Sake is brewed from, I surmise that the sake rice they may be using must have more protein content since it has a strong savory taste. Yamada-nishiki, on the other hand, is known for its low protein content, thus, producing a cleaner and crisper taste in the resulting sake especially in the Daiginjo class. We also remembered that we tasted another daiginjo “Sho chiku bai” imported from Japan sometime ago and we were not as impressed with that as we are with the current sake. Compared to that daiginjo from Japan (which was more expensive), the all-American-daiginjo “Sho Chiku Bai” (may be except for the sake yeast) is indeed superior (and cheaper by $20).

All three otoshi appetizers went extremely well with this genuine American Daiginjo sake.  Hope we can “snag” several more bottles from next year’s batch when they are released…BTW the line forms to the rear.

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