Clear moon shines again

A popular sake from Kodama Brewery is making another splash in Ontario

Elegant, refreshing and with a wicked aroma of tropical fruits and flowers, this is a sake to remember.

Chogetsu Junmai Ginjo is one of many sakes to be introduced into the Ontario market over the last few years. Arriving in 2014, Chogetsu (or “clear moon”) made a splash by winning the category gold medal in Canada’s first-ever sake competition: the Toronto International Sake Challenge. Best served slightly chilled, Chogetsu is characterized by its softness. It’s a smooth and flavourful sake that is initially fresh and light, but ends on a clear note with some sharpness.

Chogetsu---TISC-gold-medal_4c

The subtleties of sake

For those unfamiliar with sake, it could be described as an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting rice. This explanation is easy to understand, but it hides the true beauty of this fascinating and complex drink. In truth, sake can take multiple forms. If it is your first time sampling sake, what you will immediately notice is the wide breadth of character, fragrance and flavour profiles between beverages. Sake can be sweet or dry, straightforward or complex, delicate or heavy, aromatic or not. In short, sake is a vast world that can take years to explore!

To discover the story behind Chogetsu you need to start with Kodama Brewery. Surrounded by the mountains of Akita Prefecture, Kodama Brewery started as a family business in 1879 producing miso and soy sauce. By 1913 its operations had expanded to include sake and the Taiheizan brand was born. Although 104 years is fairly young for a sake brewery, it did not take long for Kodama Brewery to perfect its craft. In 1934 Taiheizan sake won the prestigious National New Sake Tasting Competition in Japan and it has since gone on to win many more awards internationally.

Part of the brewery’s success can be attributed to Akita’s cold brewing season, especially from  January to March, when Kodama brews its ginjo, daiginjo and other premium sakes. In such cold temperatures, the air stays clean, preventing contamination by various kinds of minor germs. The cold also helps control fermentation speed, producing sake like Chogetsu that is soft and aromatic.

It starts with top-notch ingredients

Another important contributor to the flavour profile of Chogetsu is the yeast, a small but important ingredient. Kodama Brewery uses yeast sourced in-house and domestically cultivated. This particular strain makes the sake more clear and crisp as well as providing a unique acidity and aroma similar to white wine. Fresh spring water, local Akita Komachi rice and the kimoto brewing method (the most traditional and labour-intensive method of sake brewing) also contribute to this outstanding sake.


 Sample a new Chogetsu

Popular overseas demand has led Kodama Brewery to produce a 300-ml bottle of Chogetsu just in time for spring! This new product is available at the following restaurants, which have graciously paired some of their best dishes with Chogetsu to fantastic effect:

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Inatei Japanese Cuisine (Richmond Hill) Braised Abalone

inateijapanesecuisine.com

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Ginko Japanese Restaurant (Etobicoke) Gindara Saikyo (black cod)

www.ginkojapaneserestaurant.ca

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Oyster Boy (Downtown Toronto) Oysters

www.oysterboy.ca


Chogetsu can be found in many downtown Toronto establishments, both fine dining (Miku Toronto, Ki Modern Japanese + Bar) and casual izakaya (Guu Izakaya, Hanmoto), as well as restaurants in the North York area (Hashi Izakaya, Kinka North York).