Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kampai Toronto Media Launch & Seminar [EVENT]

One of my fave event last year was the Kampai Toronto Sake Festival (@KampaiToronto) (post here) and it's happening for the second year. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Media Launch & Seminar at the Shangri-La Hotel last week.

This event is organized by The Sake Institute of Ontario (SIO) which is a not-for-profit corporation whose member include all of Ontario's major sake import agencies and it's sole sake producer. Their goal is to increase the knowledge, education and awareness of sake through events like Kampai Toronto.

 Kampai Toronto will be taking place on Thursday May 30th at the Distillery Historic District and tickets are available here. There will be more than 100 sakes and appetizers form a dozen of restaurant will be available for tasting.

We were given a short presentation and guided tasting by world renowned sake author & educator John Gauntner.

Here's some of the basic about Sake :

~ Sake is brewed, not distilled and not simply fermented from rice and rice alone
~ The alcohol content is usually around 16%
~ Sake been around about 1000 years in the form it is today
~ Sake is fairly priced 90% of the time 
~ Price & Quality depends on the rice (good sake rice is expensive), milling (more the rice milled, more expensive) and labor (hand crafted?)

~ Grades are defined by how much the rice has been milled
~ Daiginjo & Junmai Daiginjo (50% or less), Ginjo & Junmai Ginjo (at least 60%), Honjozo & Junmai (at least 70%) and Futsu-shu (no minimum milling)
~ Fortified Style (rice, water, yeast, Koji + Distilled Alcohol)
~ Pure Rice Style / Junmai (rice, water, yeast, Koji)

~ Sake is not aged but consumed young
~ Most premium sake should be consumed slightly chilled

Sake Style : 
Genshu - Undiluted. Typically bold with a higher alcohol content
 Kijoshu - Sweet aged sake
Koshu - Aged sake
Nama - Rough-filtered or cloudy sake. Texture & creamy on the palate
Muroka - Most sake is charcoal foltered. Murokla means it has not undergone charcoal filtering
Tokubetsu - 'Special". Brewers typically use thus to make a Tokubetsu Honjozo or Tokubetsu Junmai. Usually there is a higher milling rate or a special process is used to make the sake

There was a Sake Tasting Reception w/ hor d'oeuvres after the presentation.

Okunomatsu Sparkling Junmai Dai-Ginjo Sake
~ $16.95 for 290ml at LCBO #228973, 11.6% alc/vol.
Tasting Note/Description: Creamy banana rice pudding and baked sweet potato aromas with an effervescent dry-yet-fruity medium body and a fresh pear and apple cider palate and a tangy finish. 
 I personally don't like sparkling no matter wine or sake, so I can't say much about this although a lot of sake beginners tends to love this.

Rihaku Dreamy Clouds Tokubetsu Junmai Nigori Sake
~ $35.95 for 720ml, 15.5% alc/vol
Tasting Note/Description: Bright & lean in the mouth which is unlike many Nigoris and the impact is chewy with sweet rice flavors intermingling with nuttiness & slight fruitiness
I usually find Nigoris too sweet for me but this was somehow just right, lighter than most.

Taisetsu Great Snow Ice Dome Junmai Ginjo Sake
~ $12.50 for 300ml at LCBO #211144, 15.5% alc/vol.
 Tasting Note/Description: a rich and fragrant sake with notes o Asian pear; has a smooth rounded taste with a hint of caramel.
Not sure if I got the caramel part of the description but apart from that, it all fits the description.

 Izumi Nama Muroka Junami GenshuSake
~ $14.95 for 300ml at LCBO #286120, 17% alc/vol.
Tasting Note/Description: Bold, deep and long with notes of cantaloupe, apricot & vanilla
I am really proud of how Izumi (Ontario Spring Water Sake Company), our local sake brewery turn out since it first open back in 2011 (see post here). I wasn't a big fan of theirs when it first open but I got I've been liking it a bit more each time I taste it. They have really improve a lot within these 2 years and I am proud to say that it's our local gem.  I like this one so much that I had seconds.

I frankly still have difficulty remembering all the sake terms but I know what I like and that's all that counts for me. I usually prefer crisp, dry & full bodied sake.
I have become a rather big sake fan over the past few years and I am glad to see more and more sake are available in Canada (sales have almost tripled)

I can't wait for the 30th super excited.
Remember to get your tickets here

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