Sake Review – Gokyo Daiginjo
Gokyo Daiginjo Sake
I recently had the chance to taste some sake from the western region of Honshu in Japan, including this remarkable sake from the Yamaguchi prefecture.
Sakai Shuzo, where this wonderful sake is made is located in the southwest of Japan, in Iwakuni. It is one of 24 sake breweries that are currently brewing in Yamaguchi. You might not have heard of this small town, but you may have seen a picture of its famous bridge – the Kintai Bridge. Built-in 1673, this historic wooden bridge, consisting of five wooden arches, crosses the Nishiki River and is one popular photo spot, especially in spring and autumn. But enough about the natural beauty of Sakai Shuzo’s location and back to their outstanding sake.
Local, Local, Local
What is beautiful about Sakai Shuzo is their ideology of “Terroir", sourcing locally – producing locally. This terminology which is well-known with wine makrs is more of a recent phenomenon in the sake industry. Why? Because much of the focus of the brewers has always been on taste and quality. With a raw ingredient such as rice, shipping, and storing made it easy for breweries to access the rice variety they wanted, rather than having to work with what could be produced locally. This is especially important with breweries wanting to produce premium sake and therefore looking to use certain sake rice varieties. Which are generally harder to grow and in need of a very particular climate. Therefore it still is pretty standard to buy and import them from other regions. Getting the perfect grain does have a huge priority.
Nevertheless, building on the local community, working with local farmers, and what is available, really shines a spotlight on the region, it highlights the quality of the products and the passion of its people, making this some very special sake to enjoy.
Gokyo Daiginjo – The Perfect Aperitif
As a rule of thumb, the southern regions of Japan are often associated with a sturdier sake, however, Yamaguchi as a prefecture has a reputation for producing a wide range of styles. And this Daiginjo sake is certainly a good example of that.
The Gokyo Daiginjo, with a Seimaibuai of 40%, is an elegant, delicate, fine sake. A great representative of what we expect a Daiginjo to taste like. Aromatic and fresh, this one comes with notes of melon and banana and is best enjoyed slightly chilled or at room temperature.
It pairs very well will soft cheese, such as camembert with the creaminess of the cheese bringing out the fruity notes. It also goes well with potato salad. The acidity and fruitiness of this sake just work so well with any food that has this dairy or creamy flavor. I feel it would work great with carbonara too, however, this needs some further investigation…
But the real show stopper in my opinion and the most delicious pairing of them all – melon. In particular cantaloupe. This Daiginjo, especially served at room temperature resembles melon with its clean, fruity aroma. Making my next suggestion a pretty obvious one. Try serving it as a starter with “Prosciutto e Melone", the classic Italian appetizer consisting of just cured ham and melon. Simple and beautiful.
Alcohol Content: 17%
Brewery: Sakai Shuzo
Location: Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture