Furosen Wataribune Yamahai Junmai Ginjo Nama
Truly unique and thoughtfully crafted sake, made from locally grown, heirloom once-nearly-extinct sake rice. This lively, structured, vibrant sake starts wit...
Truly unique and thoughtfully crafted sake, made from locally grown, heirloom once-nearly-extinct sake rice. This lively, structured, vibrant sake starts with rice: Wataribune rice is grown locally* and polished by the brewery themselves (this is very rare, and usually done in bulk by larger cooperatives) in order to monitor the humidity that the rice grains take on, and make for more precise brewing.
Second to the rice is the brewery's abundant crisp spring water, which Uehara Shuzo prizes for its quality in sake brewing. Like many wonderful sake, the quality of the water really shines through in Uehara's sakes. I love this aspect.
The resulting sake is punchy and structured around the crispness of the water, matched with the softness of the Wataribune. The gaminess from the Yamahai brewing is tightly controlled, so as to color lightly with umami tones. Also, despite being unpasteurized/nama, which can sometimes be overwhelmingly bold, Uehara's Furosen Wataribune also keeps things structurally in check. Very cool and respectable sake indeed!
Fermentation is done slowly, in wooden casks, without temperature controls.**The yeast used is cultivated from yeasts in the brewery, rather than being purchased from commercial yeast producers. He also utilizes a huge wooden vertical press, which takes 3 days to press rather than 12-18 hours of the more common Yabuta method. Slow sake indeed. This sake is finely filtered through mesh to clarity before bottling. It is not pasteurized before release, which gives big and bold flavors, but also means it needs to be kept cool. Store it in your fridge!
Wataribune Rice, 60% polish ratio.
Uehara Shuzo is a 7th generation family brewery run by Isao Uehara. They are located in Takashima, on the Northwest side of Lake Biwa.
* Depending on the year, Uehara says they might need to source up to 20% of their rice from other prefectures, but usually they can do 100% local.
** Uehara clearly manages to pull off a delicious and restrained Yamahai method apparently without these controls! I'm intrigued. Yamahai method is a modern way of making the microbially rich starter mash (think sourdough starter, or kombucha scoby) that kicks off the whole brewing process. It involves open-tank fermentation that needs to be precisely controlled in temperature so that it doesn't spoil or produce off-flavors. It mimics older starter-mash methods such as Kimoto or Bodaimoto, but wasn't realized and put into practice until the early 1900s.
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