Shichida Junmai Yamahai

Shichida Junmai Yamahai

Regular price
$24.00 USD
Sale price
$24.00 USD
Regular price
$42.00 USD
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A bit of a tough sell at $42, this rich and buttery Saga yamahai is a screaming deal at $24: a recent markdown from the importer/distributor clearing space for incoming goodies.

Tasted in November 2023, Shichida Yamahai shows creamy, earthy notes of mineral water, kombu dashi, medjool date, banana-bran muffins, roasted chicken bone broth and soft pats of melting butter. The nose is coy, showing only earthy minerality, but the palate is deep and bottomless. The rich flavor intensity typical of Shichida melts into a long and satisfying finish. Truth is, it's better now at $24 than it ever tasted fresh at $42.

Stats

Pairings
Paired with sukiyaki, the yamahai emphasizes the meaty bites as well as  the sweet vegetal notes of carrot, cabbage and soft simmered daikon. Its rich intensity (served room temp) can keep up with the rich intensity of an old tare dipping sauce. 
When I tried it young, it got lost with a white miso nabe, and overpowered by a short rib braise with japanese-style risotto. But now with the benefit of aging, I think it would make a natural pair for either of these.

Stats
  • Tenzan Brewing Co., est.¬†
  • Location: Saga Prefecture
  • Rice: Yamadanishiki (local)
  • Polishing: 65%
  • Yeast: Saga F401
  • SMV: +0.8
  • Starter: Yamahai
  • Acidity: 2.2 (above average)

Background:

The Yoshinogari river in the foothills of Seburi mountain is the site of some of the earliest rice cultivation in Japan. In the Yayoi period, wet rice cultivation was brought from Korea and China along with material goods, culture, and people. Saga is also home to some of the most prestigious and earliest examples of porcelain: Arita ware, Nabeshima ware-- historically, the Nabeshima clan encouraged sake production, green tea, and ceramics as it core industries. 
While over 60% of Saga is forested and mountainous, the extensive and rich plains make Saga the leader of rice cultivation in kyushu, claiming nearly 3/4 of its total agricultural output. Brewers are spread out, and defined in part by their warm climates and competing shochu culture.  The local style is called umakuchi: juicy, rich, full bodied-- so that it doesn't get lost next to the more powerful distilled shochu. As of 2021 Saga established its own sake GI, which describes GI Saga sake as "tasty and rich" with an amakara-do greater than 0 (an indication of minimum sweetness/richness). It must also be Junmai, made of 100% Saga ingredients in Saga prefecture. While this bottling precedes widespread adoption of the GI, Shichida's sake is a great example of Saga style.