Sohomare "Heart and Soul" Tokubetsu Kimoto

Sohomare "Heart and Soul" Tokubetsu Kimoto

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This is one of the most elegant kimotos I can recommend, and as such it's really one of my favorite bottles to bring to an omakase sushi dinner, pulling it out about halfway through, when you're starting to get into the lean tuna and medium-fatty fish. It'll carry you beautifully through the climax of chu-toro and eel, and will show something completely different with each piece. It's not well suited as an aperitif: it's just a bit too subtle for drinking on its own. But with elegant cuisine, Heart and Soul really shines.

On its own, I get notes of  light bosc pear, raw white mushroom, freshly steamed white rice, oven-roasted chestnuts, and creme fraiche. The palate has prominent acidity with very mild sweetness and generous umami. It's delicious lightly chilled to lightly warmed, and in fact I like to serve it out of the fridge and really nurse my glass as the sake comes to room temperature, enjoying its evolution.

It's notable that for this sake, the brewery sources their Yamadanishiki rice from Yokada and Toko, two of the most highly reputed growing regions in Hyogo-- itself, the top location for Yamadanishiki. So you can think of this as being from grand cru sites in Burgundy, as it were. The top of the top.

Data: 60% polish, 15% alcohol, and "Tokubetsu" grade, which is sort of a blanket term that means "special in some way." In Japanese sake law, Tokubetsu either has to be under 60% polish or you have to indicate why it's special (and there are a number of approved reasons, plus you can also petition for tokubetsu status). In this case, it's special for 2 reasons: 1) 60% polish, 2) Yamadanishiki. It's also produced in the traditional Kimoto fermentation starter style, which originated 300 years ago.


Brewery:


Owned and operated by the Kono family since 1872, Sohomare focuses on producing Kimoto style of Sake from high quality, "Designation A" Yamadanishiki under the direction of Tôru Akita Toji, a member of both the Shimotsuke & Nambu Toji Guilds.

Like Urakasumi, Masumi, and Dewazakura, Sohomare is a little-turned-medium sized craft sake brewery, which I could liken to Ridge winery in Santa Cruz. Sohomare has deep historical relevance for their contributions to the jizake (craft sake) movement and has enjoyed a reputation for quality and innovation for ~30 some years. But due to their medium size, it can be difficult to innovate consistently and to continue to push the dial forward, refusing to rest on their laurels. I believe these brands, Sohomare included, are a fantastic balance of precise, quality execution (with thanks to their size, which also grants them access to the best ingredients and talent) as well as innovation and uniqueness (thanks to their craft origins and commitment to retaining that character).