Spring Nama! - Gokyo Arabashiri Nama Junmai
Boilerplate intro on seasonal sake:Nama season is here! Every spring, sake breweries release fresh-brewed bottles of unpasteurized sake in super-limited amou...
Boilerplate intro on seasonal sake:
Nama season is here! Every spring, sake breweries release fresh-brewed bottles of unpasteurized sake in super-limited amounts. We are super lucky to get access to these, and have gotten as much as we can for you! Spring Nama often disappears quickly, so grab them while you can.
About Gokyo Nama Junmai
Gokyo's spring unpasteurized release is fun and lively with a smart structure to match. Wit and wisdom. This is a wonderful expression of Yamada Nishiki through the lens of foregone pasteurization. As typical for namazake, this is a big and expressive sake.
On the nose are notes of strawberries, banana cream pie, and Circus Peanuts candy. Flavor-wise, it gives off heaps of fruit including Concord grapes, pear, and lemon zest. These fruit flavors lead into earthier and slightly savory territory in the forms of roasted hazelnuts, cocoa nibs, sesame seeds, and rice porridge. The structure is my favorite part and is led by a nice acidity that ties everything together and makes it wonderfully refreshing. The astringency is soft.
This sake is made with 100% Yamada Nishiki sake rice. (The king of sake rice!) The polish ratio is 60%, and the alcohol is a not-shy 17%.
More on Unpasteurized Sake
Unpasteurized sake is a special thing. It's often lively, bold and punchy, texturous, and packing heaps of heady aromatics. The vast majority of sake gets pasteurized twice to keep it stable and unspoiled so that it can rest easy on store shelves, or in our cupboards at home awaiting drinking. This is the industry norm. An amount far less than that sees one single pasteurization. A lot of the smaller breweries that Fulamingo carries follow the single, in-bottle pasteurization protocol. An even far lesser amount sees no pasteurization at all. These rare birds of sake are called NAMA, or NAMAZAKE. Nama basically means "raw" or unpasteurized.
If Nama is so special, then why don't more breweries make sake this way? For one, leaving sake unpasteurized risks spoilage. Namas need to be kept cool in order to guarantee that unintended microbiological processes don't set in. (Refrigeration is the best way to keep Namas safe from this. A cool cellar is second best, and room temperature or hotter for a prolonged time is asking for bad funk.) The second reason Nama isn't more widely produced and available is that the bold aromatics and lively textures can be downright overpowering for lots of sake fans. This is especially true when we consider the elegant, understated nature of delicately balanced sake. In Japan, for many, Nama is considered a novelty, albeit a novelty to be celebrated and enjoyed, but novel nonetheless. It's kind of like Beaujolais Nouveau for wine fans. Fresh wine is fun, but every winemaker who wants to show you what they can really do will have you wait until the wine ages an appropriate amount before it gets bottled. That being said, sake is absolutely not wine, and the Nouveau analogy although apt doesn't quite account for the broad deliciousness that Nama sake can provide for us, even year-round.
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