The Kojimaya "Untitled" Series asks poignant questions, and answers others.
Winemakers are asking these same questions as more and more premium wines find themselves in the Table Wine-- the Vin de France-- category, because they diverge from accepted rules, such as regionally specified grapes and yields. It's the old Super Tuscan story told again in Japan.
Kojimaya is noticeably different, noticeably unusual. Freshly opened, the bottle carries a light petillance that gives the sake animation and brightness. There are subtle backnotes familiar to any lover of kijoshu, dessert sake, and that's no accident-- a similar fermentation method is being employed here, inspired by mythological brews. Notes of brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, and clove remind me of expertly blended Burgundy when a judicious amount of oak is applied, and over time, is beautifully integrated.
The palate carries an earthy weight of beeswax, honeycomb, bamboo and kombu dashi, waving in the surf. I'm amazed that it can achieve this flavor complexity despite a gentle 13% alcohol.
The texture is soft, pillowy, broad, acidity is low although the whole experience is very elevated, complex, and wine-like. The texture and broadness makes me think of Yamadanishiki but this is in fact 100% Dewasansan, reflecting the brewery's Yamagata roots.
Make no mistake: this is a subtle sake. It belongs on the shelf with Hakkaisan Yukimuro ($75) and Hure Freres 4V Pinot Meunier ($115) and by that I mean one person might feel swindled, while her neighbor is head over heels. Neither one is wrong, it's just too individual to say for sure.
But if you tend to be the person who is very particular about their coffee, very particular about their chocolate...who thinks $50 champagne is a deal, I invite you to consider Kojimaya. If nothing else, it will show the sake aficionado something completely new (such as a wholly unrecognizable angle of cedar aging) and it will show the wine aficionado that sake is something to be reckoned with.
Pair with fairly subtle food that has sweet/spice/umami elements, such as vadouvan-sauced fish, vegetables or poultry, truffles, Scandinavian cuisine (especially spice-inflected), and fine sushi/nigiri especially eel, toro, and other rich bites served at the end of an omakase set.
- Rice: Dewasansan
- Polishing: Approximately 50%, although there is no official tech.
- Alcohol: 13%
- Fermentation starter: unknown, but the fermentation does involve sakeyondan shikomi, a 4-step addition method similar to kijoshu where sake replaces water in the 4th fermentation addition, acting as a fortification/enrichment.
- Maturation: Unknown, but it involves some degree/blend of cedar aging, although I would hesitate to call this a taruzake as its pepper/spice elements are very subtle in comparison.
- Kojima Sohonten Co.
- Yamagata Prefecture
- Est. 1597