Did you know that "Minami" means south in Japanese? It is also the name of the family that owns the brewery we are presenting today. And it's a good thing we're there, in the south, in Tosa exactly, on the island of Shikoku. This former province of the current Kochi prefecture is a fertile crescent facing the Philippine Sea, a garden where sustainable cultivation methods are now combined with the latest techniques.
Tosa, a place with a pleasant climate and generous nature.
Add to this a pleasant climate and a very varied agriculture has developed: vegetables and fruit available all year round, but also flowers with their famous orchids.
"Ipponzuri" fishing is a centuries-old tradition in Tosa.
Fishing is an equally important activity in Tosa, especially bonito fishing. This is caught using a traditional technique that is unique in the world, as the fishermen, perched on their boats, catch each fish one by one using a single rod and line. This arduous method, called "ipponzuri", preserves the quality of these fish with their fragile flesh and avoids taking other species that might have been caught if nets had been used.
"Ipponzuri", angling for bonito, is a 400 year old tradition in Tosa
Bonito is of course the culinary speciality of Tosa. It is prepared as "Katsuo no Tataki" by putting thick fillets of bonito in the oven and grilling them over a powerful fire fuelled by rice straw.
Preparation of Katsuo no Tataki with rice straw flame.
This cooking process sears the surface to a crisp, adding a characteristic smoky flavour, while the inside remains rare and melt-in-the-mouth. Bonito tataki is simply eaten with salt or soy sauce, wasabi or ginger, and fresh spring onions.
Sawachi Ryori is a culinary specialty of the Tosa region
Another typical Tosa dish is called "Sawachi Ryori". It is a large plate with an assortment of sushi, sahimis, Katsuo no Tataki, fried food, meat, pickles, but also fruit such as pineapple, another speciality of the region. Since 1968, a festival has been dedicated to Sawachi Ryori in the south of Tosa, with the idea of keeping alive this tradition which originated during the Muromachi period.
The bonito makes the link with the Tosa sake style.
The bonito is directly linked to the local sake, as a recognisable style has developed over time to accompany it: Tosa sakes are dry, with a beautiful minerality. We have two examples for you to discover today with Minami Tokubetsu Junmai and Minami Junmai Ginjo.
MINAMI SHUZOJO BREWERY
It was during the Edo period that the Minami family's business was born. They were initially wholesalers, based in the town of Yasuda, a blessed place between the sea and the mountains with the Yanase forest nearby. The Yasuda River passes right by the brewery before flowing into Tosa Bay. This is a very popular place for fishermen because of the excellent quality of the water and the abundance of fish. It is precisely this water that provides the essential element for brewing sake and has earned Minami Shuzojo the nickname "Tamanoi" (the fountain "with water like a jewel"). Their annual production volumes are small, only 300 goku (54,000 litres), a small kura that has always focused on the quality of its sake.
Minami Shuzojo in Yasuda, Tosa, is a family brewery that produces only 300 goku per year.
Tosa is the region in Japan with the highest per capita consumption of sake.
The region is known for its heavy sake drinkers, but this did not stop Sadaharu Minami, the former Kuramoto, from feeling the need to offer his products outside the prefecture. In 1998, he started a new brand called "Minami" with the ambition to conquer the country.
Minami sakes are produced under the rules of the Tokutei Meishoshu with a minimum rice polish of 60%. Their style is typical of what is appreciated locally, with beautiful aromas, strong umami, low sweetness, sharp acidity, and a kire finish. An ideal sake to accompany a meal and above all a sake that one never tires of.
Tosa sakes: beautiful aromas, strong umami, low sweetness, sharp acidity and a kire finish.
MINAMI TOKUBETSU JUNMAI
Slightly amber in colour, with light yellow highlights, the nose is lactic, but also fruity, with notes of pear, banana and strawberry. It is fresh and clean, reminiscent of rice powder. The palate is both lively and unctuous, spicy, very clean, with the quality of spring water. It evolves into drier sensations, punctuated by a beautiful bitterness that gives it even more clarity. The finish is long, persistent and bitter, adding to the sensation of sharpness.
ORDER MINAMI TOKUBETSU JUNMAI
Minami Tokubetsu Junmai 33€ - 72cl - alc. 16% vol.
-10% with the code MINAMI
MINAMI JUNMAI GINJO
Slightly amber, with very light yellow-green reflections. The nose is delicate, fruity, with white-fleshed fruit, citrus and lemon. Powdery, it expresses light notes of honey. One senses a nice acidity on a nose that is not very pronounced for a sake of the Ginjo category. On the palate, the attack is supple, soft and fruity. Spicy notes give the whole a dry and straight sensation, to finally arrive on a limpid sensation. A dry sake and a long finish, with a persistence of bitters for even more clarity.
ORDER MINAMI JUNMAI GINJO
Minami Junmai Ginjo 37€ - 72cl - alc. 17% vol.
-10% awith the code MINAMI
The more adventurous among you may try their hand at making bonito tataki. There's a trick to making it perfect: once it's on the fire, dip the fillet in ice water to stop the cooking and keep the core tender. We also recommend some oysters, scallops, octopus or grilled squid. And why not push your talent to the point of making a large plate, your own Sawachi Riori to share with friends, with these beautiful sakes as accompaniment.
A RECENT QUESTION
Here is a mini section that we have decided to add at the end of each post. A section in which we try to briefly answer a question asked by a customer or visitor.
What means « Tokubetsu »?
Tokubetsu means "special" and is an adjective that you will find before the terms Junmai or Honjozo. These sakes are special for several reasons: mainly because the rice used to make the sake is more highly polished than the minimum 60% required by law for this category. For example, a Honjozo produced with 60% polished rice will be a Tokubetsu Honjozo. Either because a specific rice is used (e.g. 100% Yamadanishiki) or because the method used is special and the producer can legally justify it. For example, a Junmai produced with rice and yeast in Ginjo, with a longer fermentation, can be called Tokubetsu Junmai. Tokubetsu Junmai and Tokubetsu Honjozo already have a foothold in the world of Ginjo, expressing the fruity notes that characterise this category.