Hanatomoe JMNG Mizumoto Kijoshu "Nature x Nature" (500ml)

Hanatomoe JMNG Mizumoto Kijoshu "Nature x Nature" (500ml)

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An intensely rich, acid-driven, juicy, complex umami number that belongs in the cellar with the very best sauternes.

Pronounced notes of ultra-ripe and juicy persimmon, green melon, honeysuckle, white mushroom, pear butter, cardamom, cannoli filling, and Chanel No. 5 (ladies!) on a beautifully balanced base of sweetness and acidity. Pair it as you would a medium dry Savennieres or Tokaji aszu-- perhaps with a cheese plate?-- or sip on its own.

Kijoshu is a style of sake defined by an extra brewing step, which leads to a higher flavor and sugar content. With kijoshu, after the usual 3 additions of water, rice and koji to the fermenting mash, an optional fourth addition is made, in which finished sake replaces the usual water. This boosts the alcohol, flavor, and sugar concentration, and the mash is pressed while it's still dense, acidic, sweet, and moderately alcoholic. 

The name "Mizumoto" refers to the pre-modern brewing method (invented ~1000 years ago by Buddhist brewing monks) which begins with a naturally sour water from raw rice, water, and lactic acid bacteria in the air. This method is particularly well suited to the damp, humid conditions in Nara, where the method originated.

Stats:

  • Brewery: Miyoshino¬†Shuzo
  • Prefecture: Nara, Yoshino forest
  • Rice: Local blend (varies based on condition, intuition, etc. A blend typically dominated by¬†Gin-no-Sato, easy to grow in humid conditions and less susceptible to collapse.)
  • Polishing: 70% (+/-)
  • Water: medium soft
  • Fermentation vessel: varies depending on atmospheric conditions, but neutral sugi kioke is typical.¬†
  • Starter: Mizumoto¬†
  • Yeast: Ambient (by Hashimoto-san's description, he cultivates each batch for very strong, "bomb-proof" yeast)
  • Koji: so-so-so-haze (very robust, advanced koji growth)
  • Pressing: yabuta¬†
  • ABV: 13%

Background:

No one is doing things like Hashimoto-san. No one. 

Not for 100+ years, has anyone so intuitively channeled the unique circumstances of their hyper-local environment and created such particular methodologies to work within them.

Hashimoto-san is deferential and respectful to the precise, modern methods of sake brewing that produce clean, delicate flavors. But he makes it clear that this cannot be done in his home region of Yoshino without neutralizing terroir: this is not the style of sake ‚Äúthat can only be made in Yoshino.‚ÄĚ It‚Äôs too damp, too humid‚Äď the aroma of local sugi wood too powerful, and the ambient microorganisms too robust‚Äď to wrangle mother nature, to squeeze her into a textbook daiginjo box. Hashimoto-san needs to be fluid, adapting to the circumstances of the moment (hard rice in a hot year, availability of particular fermentation vats mid-season) to make a thousand decisions a minute, for sake that will last a lifetime.¬†

The foundation of the Hanatomoe method is in intuition, tradition, climate and community, rather than technology. Hashimoto-san is a druid: a leader in the modern sake movement via pre-modern technique.

The sake that can only be made in Yoshino is the sake that Hashimoto-san brews. Hanatomoe can only be brewed in one place in the world, and is the strongest case for sake terroir that I have personally encountered.

(note: Photo may not reflect the current vintage. As of this writing, we are selling the 12/21 bottling.)