Tosa Reihoku , Kōchi Prefecture, Japan
Sakes have been made by family-owned Tosa brewery since 1877. It is currently run by Muneki Matsumoto (of the sixth generation), who still uses the original brewery over 140 years later. It is situated in the beautiful mountainous region called Tosa Reihoku in the Kōchi prefecture. The name of their range, ‘KEIGETSU’, is a Japanese term which describes the beautiful evening scene created when the moon hangs over Katsurahama shore.
KEIGETSU sakes are made from organically-grown, local rice varieties: Hinohikari and Gin-no-Yume. Hinohikari is a table rice variety that was traditionally used to brew sake before popular sake specific rice varieties such as Yamadanishiki were developed. Gin-no-Yume is a sake-specific rice that is a crossing of Hinohikari and Yamadanishiki, specially developed for the Kōchi prefecture. Mr Matsumoto believes that his local rice, grown within two kilometres of the brewery, is best suited to Tosa Reihoku because it grows well on their terraced rice paddies at 300 - 600 metres above sea level, with high diurnal temperature swings. Due to its pure water and cool climate, the Kōchi prefecture is also renowned for the quality of its yuzu fruit, and KEIGETSU produce a yuzu sake from organic fruit grown by Mr Matsumoto’s relatives. The yuzu sake is bursting with yuzu citrus fruit (an intense mix of lemon, tangerine and lime aromas with a fragrant lift) and is sweet, with 8% abv. It is made as a Junmai and then blended with yuzu juice, honey and sugar. It is best served chilled, like all the KEIGETSU sakes.
The ‘Aikawahomare Tokubetsu Junmai’ is made from Hinohikari rice from the Aikawa region, polished to 60%. The nose leads with honeydew melon and sweet chestnut paste. The palate is round and silky with yellow peach on the finish and is true to its ‘tokubetsu’ (‘special’) designation. The ‘Gin-no-Yume Junmai Daiginjo 45’ is made from Gin-no-Yume rice with a 45% polish. It has delicate aromas of lychee and rose. It is dry on the palate and has great purity on the finish. The ‘Nature’ is made from Yamadanishiki rice, which is polished to 45%. It is made using the oldest sake starter method, called Kimoto, and has an elegant, pure nose of expressive stone fruit and white blossom, with a very well-balanced palate and a long finish.
The ‘John’ Sparkling Sake was made for Mr Matsumoto’s good friend John. It is made with Gin-no-Yume rice as a Junmai Daiginjo (50% polish) before it is made sparkling with CO2. The sake is crystal clear with aromas of peach and cherry blossom on the nose, propped up by lively bubbles and a bone-dry finish on the palate.