First of all, a little reminder: you know that there are two main categories in the classification of sake, Futsuu Shu sake (or "ordinary" sake), and Tokutei Meisho Shu sake, (or "premium" sake). Futsuu Shu, even if they account for more than 70% of the total production, do not necessarily attract the favor of specialists. They are generally produced by the majors whose owners often bear their name.
But -if one looks for a but- there are pearls in this category, and the pearl we present to you today is Tentaka Umakara sake, produced by the Tentaka Shuzo brewery in Tochigi.
The crazy bet of Futsuu
If Tentaka Shuzo is known for its series of sake made from organically grown rice (which we will talk about later), it makes a very smart bet here: to play the quality card on a Futsuu by making a sake of this type from noble ingredients, such as 60% polished Goyakumangoku rice, and above all, with as much care as for a premium sake.
Efforts that were rewarded with a double gold medal at the International Wine Challenge in London in 2018, in the categories "Best Futsuu Shu" and "Great Value Sake", in other words, great ration quality/price.
TENTAKA UMAKARA 72cl alc. 15% flight - 21€.
From a taste point of view, the result is very interesting. We have a sake with a discreet, delicate nose, with cereal notes. It is dry in the mouth, but the umami is powerful, rich, which brings roundness and smoothness. The mouth is punctuated by a slight bitterness and the finish is clean, thirst-quenching. A sake to discover for a really interesting price!
ABOUT THE BREWERY
Tentaka Shuzo is located in the heart of Tochigi Prefecture in the city of Otawara. A region where nature is rich and the climate is rather pleasant with sunny weather throughout the year, mild in summer and cold in winter. The surroundings, between the Nakagawa and Tokugawa rivers, are very fertile and rice growing has always been practiced here. Abundant and pure water is available from the Nasudake spring in the northernmost part of the prefecture. The conditions for producing quality sake are therefore largely in place, and the Tentaka Brewery is using them in a rather original production approach.
Within this ideal natural environment, it combines a very strict approach to the quality of the raw material, using organic rice, with a strong desire to promote the automation of its production processes by introducing the most advanced equipment in the brewery. This is a necessity in Japan, where the working population is tending to shrink, but it is also a desire on the part of Tentaka to enable its employees to work safely while maintaining a high level of quality. Modernity merges with tradition and Tentaka interacts very closely with local rice producers. Very rarely at present for a brewery, it produces its own rice. Methods are evolving, but the passion for sake remains intact.