03 March 2014

SakéOne Online Tasting

This is my third online tasting with Oregon's SakéOne (cf. 2013, 2012). In addition to brewing in Oregon, they also import saké from Japan, and are working on making craft saké like the craft beer movement. You couldn't pick a better place than the Portland area, and yes, the bottles have already made a cameo appearance in an episode of Portlandia.

Nearly everyone has had a bad experience with saké, and it's probably due to trying it at the wrong temperature, drinking really cheap and acidic versions, or simply dunking it back without a thought of the aromatics. In fact, the traditional ochoko cup shown in the picture is not good for enjoying the subtleties of saké: a wine glass works much better, and in fact, Ridel makes a special glass just for that purpose.

I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to taste some decent saké, preferably a few in a row, and learn what you've been missing all these years. (Note: in the photo, all bottles are 300mL format for sampling, compared against a pair of standard Riesling bottles in the background for contrast.)

SakéMoto Junmai Saké
Nada, Japan
$11/720mL, 14.7% abv.

Our first selection of the evening was an inexpensive import. Clean and light with a little melon element in the background. Low acidity and a round mouthfeel. Good introductory bottle that is traditional and accessible. Junmai indicates that the rice grains are polished to 70% and no additional alcohol is added to the product. It's a mid-range classification, not the cheapest futsuu-shu that most people have encountered.

Momokawa Diamond
Medium Dry Saké
Junmai Ginjo
Forest Grove, Oregon
$13/750mL, 14.8% abv.

Junmai Ginjo removes a bit more of the rice grain, down to 60%, and again, no additional alcohol is added. This bottle had a wonderful earthy aroma with richer grain flavors and a firmer body. It reminded me of a Hefeweizen, and indeed, saké pairs with a pretty wide range of foods like beer does.

Momokawa Pearl
Creamy Nigori Saké
Junmai Ginjo
Forest Grove, Oregon
$13/750mL, 18% abv.

This was a real surprise... The host told us to turn the bottle over multiple times to mix it up, which revealed a sort of lava lamp lump of something in the bottom. It's unfiltered like back in the old days, so you have to gently turn it over to mix before serving. The resulting mixture is white like milk with all the rice sediment. It clings to the side of the glass a bit like cream. On the palate it is creamy with a little touch of sweetness, and fascinating. Highly recommended if you've never had it before, and whatever you do, don't serve it warm. All of these were sampled at a cool temperature similar to white wine.

Note: These bottles were provided as samples for review.

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