Thursday, June 10, 2010

Michael Simkin Of ICHISHIMA Tastes Silk Deluxe Junmai, Futsuu, Honjozo & Junmai Genshu Sakes @ Cleveland Park Wines June 9th, 2010 W/ Jody Jackman

Michael Simkin of MJS SAKE SELECTIONS ( ) is American and knows his sakes pretty much inside-out. When listening to him can pretty easily imagine him doing a sake tasting while asleep as it is getting to be so deeply embedded in his brain. I like that : I like it a lot. I wish that I could have spent more time listening to him explain the various four sakes that he tasted than directing customers his way so that he could taste with them. It's a tough job running a wine store, but someone has to do it and that job falls upon my shoulders pretty much most of the time. Alas I will have to invite Michael back many more times to become better versed in the subject of sakes myself.

These are just a very few of the pictures that I took on this evening with Michael Simkin and I will have to include more of them later. However, we have many in-store/wine-tastings and many people ( owners/ wine-makers/ reps/ sales managers, etc ) that visit and taste at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel : 202-363-4265 ) that I have to do the best that I can with these blog entries as I am able. The important thing is to get at least something posted with some information and as many of the pictures as possible as I want to tell/relate a visual story and experience as much as a written one.

Being an artist I like to take lots of artsy photos like the one above as I hope that it gets your curiosity aroused to go in search of one or more of these fine sakes to try.

I must say that I am becoming more and more impressed each and every time that I try some of the higher quality sakes that are now available to us here in the Washington D,C. metropolitan market. It's pretty amazing and these four sakes impressed me as much if not more of the many sakes that I have tried now over the last three or so years.

All of a sudden there seems not only to be more excellent sake available to us than ever before. But even more important there seems to be individuals out there that really know their product like Michael willing to get out there and taste with customers for three hours or more in a store.

In my humble opinion this is key to guaranteeing the success that sake will have in the United States and elsewhere in the world. The fine sake business is one that again in my opinion is healthy and really growing ; but it does need dedicated individuals like Michael ( as well as Morgan Hartman and others that I have already written about here in my blogs at chatwine - check them out as well ) to continue this growth, appreciation and acceptance that in today's changing, volatile and fickle market is anything but sure.

Look at Michael's presentation above laid out on our tasting table in the photo above. It's impressive, really : a visual tour-de-force with samples of the rice ground/polished down, etcetera.

Michael tasted four sakes on this evening : the 1) ICHISHIMA Silk Deluxe Junmai ( $27.49 ), the 2) ICHISHIMA FuTSUU ( $24.49 ), the 3) ICHISHIMA HONJOZO ( $30.99, Michael's personal favorite of these four I believe he said ) , and the 4) ICHISHIMA Junmai Genshu ( $22.99 ).

As I said I liked all four and found all four to have very different taste profiles. I liked the bouquets as much as the taste and flavors once on my palate. This has not always been true for me where in the past I could not get past the strong bouquets that upset my senses and stomach so much that I wanted to hurl! That's a terrible thing to have to say : and I say it knowing now that it is no longer true so I do not feel so bad about having said it. Mike Martin that used to work with me at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits used to feel the same way about this. This fortunately started to change for the both of us when Morgan Hartman of Vine Connections as well as Marcie Weinstein of Constantine Selections tasted us on some of their fines selections that we have now been carrying at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits now for the last three or more years.

As a bit of local history I will say that before this we bought the Japanese sakes from Washington Wholesalers and though the selections were fine and available in all the sizes including the 720 ml and the 1.8ml there was never anyone around to take them out and taste us the retail consumers. I fault not our reps for Washington Wholesalers ( Tom Morrisey made every effort for example to sell them to us ), but those that sold them to Washington Wholesale distributors. Where were they all this time/ where are they even now? Get off you you-know-what after you read this and come by the store to make your tardy amends.

Great picture of you Jody ( Jody Jackman, our favorite Winebow rep ) : might be one of my very best ever and I have taken many pictures of you over the years now.

Michael, thanks for doing this tasting here in Cleveland Park N.W. Washington D.C. in our nation's capitol. You were great and we sold some of each of these four sakes and they continue to sell. You will definitely have to come back for a repeat sake-tasting. I will get Jody to send us some more of the ICHISHIMA Honjozo as we are currently out.

I will write more about each of these four sakes when I am back at the store. It is now Sunday, June 27th, 2010 here at home in northern Virginia at 3:40 PM on a really hot day outside and I am trying to keep up with all my blog entries that I have in draft form with the pictures downloaded and the stories still waiting to be written. Lots of pressure : I love it! Cheers, TONY

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