Momokawa sakes
Photo: Momokawa Organic Ginjo (junmai) and Momokawa Ruby junmai ginjo.

Link to Part 1 of the SakéOne Challenge

Momokawa Organic Ginjo (junmai)
A few weeks back when I tried the Momokawa Organic Ginjo the weather was still chilly here in the Washington, D.C. area. We (the tasting team here at You, Madam) were sitting outside, not so much because it was comfortable outside but more in hope of luring warm weather. I was ready to discover a summer sake.

I sat wondering about the bottle which was labeled Organic Ginjo and on the line below, junmai. Why not just junmai ginjo as on the other three Momokawa junmai ginjos I had tried so far? Perhaps to the marketing team organic ginjo sounds better than organic junmai ginjo. I would have focused on teaming junmai with its connotations of all rice, no added alcohol, with the term organic, for a double-emphasis on a natural product, made of pure rice, using no chemicals. Whatever. As long as a sake makes my mouth happy, I don’t care if the label reads:

Isaac Titsingh’s Organisch Sacki

The first moment of the first sip was promising, I was thinking, a light, delicate, warm weather sake, something for summer to serve very cold, not too demanding for a non-sake drinker, perhaps to serve to some friends, now what would I want to drink with—

And then I got the long sour aftertaste which kills this one for me. It has a faint nose with a super light palate that is refreshing, but then the finish skews bitter/sour. Strange.

I certainly think using organic rice is a worthy enterprise. I am out at my local farmer’s market every week, I try for local and if something is also organic, all the better. But sake is one of those unique products that overcomes my delicate eco sensibilities in my need to quench my thirst, so that domestic organic label really needs to represent something delicious to sway me.

I read an interesting article by Melinda Joe about Japanese organic sake in the Japan Times, but it made me wonder about the rice SakéOne normally uses to brew its sake. Is that rice normally grown with pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers? Is it local rice?

I’ll try to get some answers and report back. If anyone has any insights on Japanese rice growers, organic sake, or Issac Titsingh, please do share.

Momokawa Ruby (junmai ginjo)
We drank a bottle of Momokawa Ruby with a dish of pasta with sardines, bread crumbs, and capers (from Mark Bittman in the New York Times). The Ruby had a great mouthfeel and paired nicely with the strong sardine and caper tastes. We drank the whole bottle…and ever since I have been trying to find the junk-mail envelope on which I wrote my notes. Let’s just say when it goes fast, we’re digging it. I remember it wasn’t as dry as the Silver and was free of the unpleasant nose of the Diamond. I’d pair this sake with grilled fish or even a steak (although I prefer to have one of my favorite yamahais with beef). Good news for me, Momokawa Ruby is another reasonably priced, reasonably good drinkin’ sake option.

Next: SakéOne’s G Sake, the big genshu…
The SakéOne Challenge, Part 3: G Sake
The SakéOne Challenge, Part 1: Momokawa Silver and Momokawa Diamond