All About Japan

Sake Blessed with Deep Snow

| Sake , Niigata

Niigata Prefecture is known as one of the top sake producing and consuming regions in Japan. Located in the heart of the prefecture, Niigata Meijo has produced top-quality sake since its inauguration in 1938, having won multiple awards including in the Niigata sake appraisal competition.

This achievement resulted solely from the brewery's constant efforts in making oishii (tasty) sake by maximizing the power of the local water, rice, environment and brewers.

The environment surrounding Niigata Meijo is rather severe. “Freezing weather with heavy snow” might not sound easy for living, but it's ideal for sake brewing. An abundance of snow turns to pristine water and the water contributes to the local rice growing, and more directly, making sake. The constant snowfall also helps purify the air, which is crucial for sake brewing that involves koji (a type of bacteria) and yeast. Though it’s extremely cold, the temperature around the brewery is steady throughout the winter, resulting in a clean and gentle flavor.

Great rice is also essential to Niigata Meijo. Along with carefully selected, quality rice, it uses locally grown Koshi-Tanrei variety rice, which creates a clean and crisp taste profile and sake that complements food.

Currently, three kinds of sake from Niigata Meijo are available in the U.S. Koshi no Kanchubai Kamenoo is a rich and flavorful junmai ginjo-class sake. It’s best enjoyed hot, and pairs well with umami-rich dishes such as yakitori and sukiyaki. Another junmai ginjo-class sake, Koshino Kanchubai Gold Label, is characterized by a glamorous and fruity flavor profile with a clean finish. It can be served either cold or hot, and is great with dishes like raw oysters or sashimi.

Koshino Kanchubai Silver Label, a junmai sake, has a rich and intense flavor at the top, which then tapers into a smooth and dry finish. It pairs well with dishes like hiya-yakko (cold tofu topped with condiments) and yellowtail teriyaki. Niigata Meijo’s sake tastes as beautiful as snowfalls, and has a power that slowly matures during the long, cold winter.

3 Key Points About Niigata Meijo Co., Ltd.

1. Strict Quality Control
Niigata Meijo is serious about quality control and customer satisfaction. To provide safe and high-quality sake to consumers, it obtained ISO9001, a quality management standard that has strict requirements to ensure product consistency. As of 2015, Niigata Meijo is the only sake brewery in Niigata Prefecture that has acquired ISO9001.

2. Award-Winning Daiginjo Sake
Niigata Meijo’s Chojazakari Daiginjo (not available in the U.S.) received major awards many times, including the best sake award at the Kanto Shinetsu Regional Sake Appraisal. It was awarded top rank at the National New Sake Appraisal as well.

3. Perfect Environment for Sake Brewing
Niigata Meijo is located in snow country, which contributes to creating great quality sake. With a lot of snow and small changes in temperature throughout the day and night in winter, the environment allows sake to mature slowly at low temperatures. The brewery also makes locally grown rice to produce sake that is clean and silky with a round taste profile.

Read full story: www.chopsticksny.com

Related Articles:
200 Years Old Brewery Goes Worldwide
Brewing Sake with Original Equipment and Ideas
Sake that Captures the Essence of the North