if you’ve been searching for the perfect sake, look no further than the castle with the bubbling brook.
Nestled among mountain ranges, flowing streams and vast rice fields on Japan’s west coast, Sakata is an unassuming city approximately six hours north of Tokyo. A charming town of roughly 100,000 people, Sakata takes obvious pride in its key strengths: agriculture and fishery—you won’t go hungry here! Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Yamagata region, the city offers bountiful fish markets, scrumptious seafood restaurants and—to top it all off—a premier sake brewery with a growing local and international reputation: Tatenokawa.
Founded in 1854 by the lord of the local Shonai clan, Tatenokawa (“Castle Brook”) has always made it its mission to produce some of the country’s finest sake. But when its current president, Sato Junpei, took the reins in 2001 he found that sales were lacking and the brewery needed a bit of a boost. Leading a young team of sake enthusiasts, he made the decision 10 years ago to dedicate the company’s production wholly to one product: Junmai Daiginjo— the A-lister, the VVIP, the best of the best in classes of sake.
The move paid off. Featuring locally grown Dewasansan rice polished to 50% and the never-ending fresh water that flows through lush, hilly Yamagata, Tate-nokawa’s trademark Nakadori is a light, semi-sweet sake with a robust flavour and balanced acidity. With fruity hints of pear, cherry and apple, it pairs perfectly with sushi and sashimi and leaves a refreshing aftertaste that’ll have you wanting more. Best served cool to get that true wintry mountainous feel!
Eager to try it? You’re in luck. This chilly sake is a hot commodity at the LCBO—find it there, or visit this year’s Kampai Toronto, Canada’s largest sake festival. Held in the Distillery Historic District, the festival sells out every year as it brings together hundreds of sakes from dozens of breweries and delectable dishes to taste-test to your heart’s content. Tatenokawa will be in attendance at this year’s festival, ready to delight your tastebuds with Nakadori and other premium Junmai Daiginjo offerings. Expect to find
a lively scene of music, crafts and other activities celebrating a shared appreciation for all things sake taking over the district’s cobblestone streets on May 31. See you there, sake lovers.