Sake in the heart of winter – four Japanese rarities
Sake has played an important role in Japanese culture from the time it was first brewed over 2,000 years ago. Sake has been a drink of reverence, family and friendship often drunk to mark important occasions. And, traditionally, the beverage is meant to be enjoyed with friends and family in intimate settings.
At Pearl Wine Company, we have always been enamored with the production, time-honored traditions and subtle nuances of the beverage. Once thought of by the Japanese as the “drink of gods” and consumed on special occasions, sake is now one of the most popular drinks in the country. Though we often think it must be consumed only when eating sushi or other Japanese foods, sake actually is a great pairing for a variety of dishes and cuisines.
Traditionally, sake is made from fermented rice, koji (often translated as rice malt or yeast made from rice) and water. Sake is most usually brewed by a toji, or head sake brewer. A toji learns his skill through on-the-job training in an apprenticeship. There are no texts, and there is no classroom study; the only way to learn is by watching. In the old days, no one was taught by any one direct person; those who wished to become a toji were expected to watch, learn and master. This methodology allowed one to develop a strong sense of of the process while also devising an individual style of brewing. Many tojis are in training for 30-plus years before taking the reins, and the average age of a Toji is 65! As such, the toji tradition of each brewery is passed down from generation to generation and ensures each brewery crafts a unique, one-of-a-kind product.
This week we explore four different sakes from four different regions. All have their own amazing story and history.
Mioya Brewery “Eternal Embers”
Ishikawa, Japan :: $18 sale $15 (300ml)
Mioya is unapologetically unconventional. Yuhu experiments with brewing components and techniques to produce sake that have a wild characteristic and texture. Bold umami flavors with notes of bread pudding, rain, nuts, figs. “Eternal Embers” is named for a local river crossing festival where ancient Japanese Prince is reunited with his beloved princess.
Kaetsu Brewery “Bride of the Fox”
Niigata, Japan :: $19 sale $16 (300ml)
Kaetsu brews powerful, big, bold sake from Japan’s most popular brewing region, Niigata, which is otherwise known for producing light, clean Sake. The Sake is inspired by local legends of Niigatas annual fox-bride festival. Local lore tells of mysterious lights that appeared only nearby Mt. Kirin in the distant past, which are thought to be the lanterns carried in the fox-bride procession. The husband and wife co-owners come from families with sake backgrounds and Toji Kenichiro-san has made sake for over 50 years! Intense aromas of gilled nuts, pistachio and a hint of white chocolate. Ripe honeydew notes finish crisp with a hint of lingering sweetness.
Tentaka Brewery “Hawk in the Heavens”
Tochigi, Japan :: $35 sale $30
Located in a region known for its pure rivers and natural beauty, Tentaka has created a sustainable microcosm to preserve and support future generations of Sake. President Ozaki-san’s passion for the environment has led the brewery to use local ingredients, to reuse production byproducts and to get Organic Certification in Japan, the US and EU – one of only two breweries with the triple certification. The brewery is landlocked and Tentake sake is locally treasured with only a small amount of sake leaving the area.
The brewery name, Tentaka translates to “hawk in the heavens,” a prosperous Japanese symbol that is thought to bring good fortune. Dry, crisp with flavors of mixed nuts, cut green grass and other earthy notes. This is actually a go-to sake for barbecue!
Kizakura Brewery “Blossoms of Peace”
Kyoto, Japan :: $22 sale $18
Tozai is the authentically Japanese sake that bridges the gap between East and West and is an innovation for all to enjoy sake. Tozai’s sake is approachable for sake pros and novices alike, making it an everyday drink. Local, all-natural aodani plums are soaked in Tozai sake for over three months resulting in an incredible balanced sake with tart, juicy acidity on the finish. Plum blossoms are know as “The Flowers of Peace” in Japan and symbolize growth, renewal and awakening. Aromas of Marzipan followed by plum, apricots and cherry on the palate.
Sakes will be featured through Tuesday, January 10th.
New year, new Saturday event! Friends, welcome to Wine Share Saturdays! At Pearl Wine Company we believe in real wine made by real people. Each month we hand select wines authentic wines made at family-owned wineries. When you pick up your share, you’ll not only be receiving wine, you’ll receive the profile and story of each featured winery. For levels, choose either our Table Wine, Banquet or Connoisseur Wine Share monthly collections. Pick up your box the first Saturday of each month. Selections rotate with the seasons.
TABLE WINE $55 – four bottles
At PWC we refer to our everyday drinking wine as Tuesday Night Wine or Table Wine. Think of it as that bottle that you can pop open and enjoy with pizza, a burger or on its own! This section is a rotating selection of wines that are on our table any given month.
THE BANQUET $95 – six bottles
Our Banquet is comprised of six bottles and will include four table wine bottles and two bottles you might plan a dinner around, open for some guests or even lay down for that right occasion!
We start sippin’ and tastin’ at 4pm. Hope you can make it! Tag your pics #pickitupatpearl so we can CHEERS!
Discover why 5280 Magazine Readers and Editors voted Pearl Wine Company Denver’s BEST BOTTLE SHOP. PWC takes pride in being Denver’s best wine shop–a craft liquor specialty store. Conveniently located on South Pearl Street in Denver’s Platt Park neighborhood.