Okuharima Summer Ginjo
By Shimomura Shuzoten
Okuharima, Rich and Super-Dry Summer Junmai Ginjo by Shimomura Shuzoten
Japan's four distinctive seasons are well documented, and each plays a significant role in the cultural activities of the local people. The sake world is thankfully not immune to these changes, and limited editions are released throughout the year that compliment the changing of the climate. Presently, Japan is in the midst of summer, and the stifling temperatures that accompany this time of year can easily start to have an affect on your fatigue levels.
Luckily though, tonights sake from Shimomura Shuzoten in northern Himeji, Hyogo prefecture, is just the ticket for making these long humid summer nights more bearable. It's a Ginjo grade sake 吟醸酒, but it certainly doesn't conform to the delicate light style synonymous with this premium classification. Instead, it is full-bodied and rich 芳醇, boasting an abundance of umami goodness.To put it into perspective, the average range of amino levels in sake is anywhere from 1.0 to 2.0. Anything below 1.0 is said to be Tanrei 淡麗 meaning light with a clean finish, and Ginjo grades usually measure in somewhere around 1.3. This sake comes in at a mighty 2.2, and you can really taste the richness coming from from the local Hyogo rice.
The rice used is actually a blend of two different strains, both local to the Harima region. The first, needing no introduction, is Yamada-Nishiki 山田錦, which was used for making the all important koji. The kake-mai on the other hand was provided by the aptly named Hyogo Yume-Nishiki 兵庫夢錦, one of the many offsprings of the former. Both were polished to 55% and have instilled those distinctive billowing flavours that make Hyogo prefecture's rice some of the most famous in Japan.
However, perhaps surprisingly for such a rich sake, it is not in any way cloying. Instead, this unpasteurised 生 edition was brewed super-dry 超辛 with a Sake Meter Value of +7.5. With plenty of acidity ensuring a sharp, even slightly crisp finish, this fantastic refreshing sake is perfect for the summer season. Furthermore, this is another great example of the wonderful seasonal sake that can be enjoyed throughout the year, and provides yet another appealing aspect to the world of sake in general.