Reviewers’ Favorites: The Best Sakes from Nadagogo for All Occasions

Robert Parker Wine Advocate recently released a comprehensive Sake report of the Nadagogo region as the first in a series of many Sake reports to come by new Sake reviewer Atsuhide Hoshiyama. Nadagogo was chosen as a starting point due to the area being home to Japan’s most famous Sake producers and a long history of Sake-making for over seven centuries. 

You can read more about the Nadagogo region in the full report here.

Sake for Special Occasions
These beverages, while offered at premium prices, promise a highly polished flavor and are recommended as a gift for a special somebody or to savor on a special occasion.

Made from 38% rice-polishing ratio Yamada-Nishiki, the Hakutsuru NV Tenkuu Mitose Fukurozuri Junmai Daiginjo Yamada-Nishiki was pressed with Shizuku-Shibori (no pressure, free run) at low temperature and then was aged for three years at low temperature. It is gentle and transparent and also has good depth. Seductive aromas of yellow apple sherbet, acacia petal, oyster shell and a waft of dill are totally integrated with a grainy hint. It has a sleek taste, extremely smooth mouthfeel and very well integrated alcohol as a result of the aging, which also contributes to the seamless texture. It has a savory steamed rice complex on the mid-palate but is very refined and minerally on the finish.

Made from 38% rice-polishing ratio Hakutsuru-Nishiki, the Hakutsuru NV Tenkuu Fukurozuri Junmai Daiginjo Hakutsuru-Nishiki was pressed with Shizuku-Shibori (no pressure, free run) at a low temperature. It is gentle and refined, with good depth and a touch of exotic nuances, fresh white peach, melon sherbet, citrusy fruits, quality rice powder, chalk and dash of tarragon. It has a slippery and refined texture that is balanced with an elegant and consistent taste. Integrated acidity contributes to freshness, and it has controlled modest savoriness on the finish. This is a totally gentle style with a harmonious mouthfeel and good precision.

Sake To Drink Now
Made from 35% rice-polishing ratio Yamada-Nishiki, the Sakuramasamune NV Oukaichirin Daiginjo is a delicate and perfumed style, showing apple, fresh melon, acacia petal, fine rice flour and chalk nuances. It has a gentle cotton candy-like sweetness and subtle grainy umami that add depth. Integrated acid pungency adds vitality to the sleek texture. It has a long finish with layered flavors.

Sake That's Especially Good Value
Displaying a straw hue, the Kenbishi NV Mizuho Kuromatsu is made from Yamada-Nishiki and blended with Sakes that have been aged for at least two years. It offers aromas of Maillard soy sauce as well as a complex spiciness of star anise, coriander and roasted almond, plus notes of brown mushroom, bonito flakes and steamed rice. It has nice depth and a round palate showing an aged Sake taste. The still-lively acidity and grainy bite add structure, while umami and integrated bitterness lead to a long finish.

Made from 50% rice-polishing ratio Gohyakumangoku, the Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura NV Daiginjo Muroka Genshu is so perfumed, with aromas of crunchy apple, melon, Japanese pear, dill and natural spring water but with aldehyde present. High alcohol and integrated acidity give it a mellow texture, and the concentrated mid-palate leads to a long finish with some alcohol pungency.

Sake To Enjoy With Cuisine
Made from 70% rice-polishing ratio Gohyakumangoku with the Kimoto method, the Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura NV Kimoto Junmai shows judiciously handled gentle aromas of ripe melon, steamed rice, yogurt, chalk, a touch of dill and a bit of spice. It has good concentration that is well-balanced with bracing acidity and a round, satiny mouthfeel. Some peachy flavors contribute to a quality, juicy finish. This is a precise and completely gentle style.

The Kenbishi NV Kuromatsu has savory and well-integrated aromas of steamed rice, shiitake soup stock, caramel and aged cheese. Layers sweet spice and savory umami are chased by vivid acidity. It has a long finish with spicy flavors and backbone, a classic sinewy-structured style.

For the full report with over 100 Sake tasting notes from Japan’s Nadagogo region, please click here.

About Atsuhide Hoshiyama
Atsuhide Hoshiyama is a wine and Sake professional based in Hyogo—the biggest Sake-making prefecture in Japan and famous for the region of Special A rice field. In 2002, he started his career working for his family-owned restaurant—Yakiniku House Rengaya.

Since joining the industry, Atsuhide has achieved numerous wine and Sake qualifications: Japan Sommelier Association (J.S.A.) Sommelier Excellence (the highest wine qualification in Japan) in 2013; International A.S.I. Sommelier Diploma in 2014; WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wine & Spirits and WSET Level 3 Award in Sake in 2019; and J.S.A. Sake Diploma in 2020. He is currently a student in the Masters of Wine program, which he began in 2021 and won the IWSC Foundation scholarship when he took the entrance exam.

You can view Atsuhide’s full bio here.

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