Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Saké in Denver

I'm in Colorado for nearly two weeks, first in Denver and then in Colorado Springs. Naturally, while I'm here, I am going to try to find new sakés to try.

Our first night here, we had dinner in a nice little Japanese restaraunt called Sushi Han. There were only a couple of choices for saké and they weren't even listed by name, so I chose the mystery "Junmai Ginjo" and hoped for the best. I was happy when they brought the bottle to the table and I found that they were serving Hakushika Junmai Ginjo (SMV +0, acidity 1.4). The aroma was very subtle, just barely rice I thought. But the taste: Chocolate! Chocolate rice! Really, once the idea of chocolate entered my mind, I couldn't think of anything else, except for the fact that this saké felt thick. It almost felt like it had the consistency of oil although that makes it sound unpleasant and it wasn't.

When we were finished with dinner, I covertly hid the bottle in my bag and I'm looking at it now and wondering what "BL.BL" means. It is stamped on the label in the manner that a bottling date usually is, so I tried googling "saké date on bottle" and had no luck with what I was looking for, but I did find a bizarre sounding movie. Saké Bottle Battle (2004) is described as follows:

A man and a woman, on their pivotal fourth date, dine together in a Japanese restaurant. But when the man demands that the woman steal a saké bottle for him, their individual truths -- alternately eccentric, kinky, and perfectly understandable -- cause them to bond in uniquely human fashion.

I have the feeling that this movie won't be in my netflix queue anytime soon.

Today I had the chance to stop in at Chateau Liquors, a very nice shop with a large selection of wines and a few sakés on the shelf as well. I bought one of each of everything that they had that I hadn't tried before:

Notice the bottle on the right is missing it's cap. That is because I decided to begin research on some of my new saké right away. Tentaka Kuni "Hawk in the Heavens" (SMV +3, seimaibuai 55%, acidity 2.1) was the first thing I tried. The aroma on this one was pretty light; only a bit of rice. There was a slight alcohol taste, but also a bit of fruit that I wasn't expecting from the scent. The acid was a little sharper than I like, but overall, I think this was a nicely balanced saké. I didn't finish the entire bottle, so I will try the rest later and compare the "fresh" and the "been open a few days" taste.

I believe that, barring a saké emergency that I must relay, the report on my Colorado trip will pick up in a few days when I reach Colorado Springs.


melinda said...

Sounds like you got a happy surprise, and also seems like your tasting went well. So would you recommend the Harushika? I've had a few of their products, all nice, but I've never encountered a thick, chocolately one like you described. They do have operations in the US, right?

Valerie Urban said...

It's hard to recommend this one because it was so unusual. It was so unlike the other sakes that I've had, I think you would either love it or hate it. I'd like to try it again myself.

Kurt Shintaku said...

Hi Valerie. I run a site called Sake Sensei. Just thought I'd put my two cents in to tell you how nice it is that there's another sake blogger out there. (I've seen quite a few come and go over the last few years.)

By the way, I'm finding it funny that you went to Denver for sake. Not exactly a bastion of fine seishu imports... (grin) That's dedication. If you ever pass through Los Angeles, check out my Japanese Cuisine "heat map" (It's posted to my site) and I'm sure you'll find a few places that you'll enjoy for both Japanese food as well as sake.

Valerie Urban said...


Thanks for stopping by! I've been an admirer of your site for a while now; you probably noticed the link to it from mine. I had a lot of fun reading the posts, esp. about the sake tour - sounds like it was quite something!

I used to live in L.A., but that was before I knew about sake. I only get there about every other year now, but I will definitely make use of your guide when I'm there. By the way, since you travel a lot... I'm going to be in S.F. for True Sake's Sake Day event in Oct. I wonder if you'll be there?

Timothy said...

I see you picked up a 300 ML bottle of the Chiyonosono Junmai Ginjo (second from left in your picture. I bought this sake from Ambassador Wines back in March of this year here in NYC and the Bottle came bubble wrapped to protect the rice paper label. I tried Chiyonosono a while ago and just posted it to my sake tasting database. I enjoyed it - Hope you did too!

Valerie Urban said...

I haven't had the Chiyonosono yet, but I'm glad to hear that you liked it. It really is a pretty label - I've been collecting the labels from every sake that I've tried and I hope to do something (at least organize them!) soon. I can't remember the brand, but I remember seeing on your blog the pretty "disco" label with glittering gold - I really want to find that one!