Text: Ronny Lau
Connoisseur in Hong Kong is always looking for the finest cuisine around town, to pair with the yummy dishes, a bottle of fine wine is a must. Thanks to the 1855 Médoc Classification, when a bottle of Bordeaux wine is uncorked, first growth such as Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Margaux or Château Haut-Brion is always the first choice, even it comes with a high price tag.
There is no wine classification in Bourgogne, but the vineyards are divided into grades, the top Grands Crus and Premiers Crus are labeled for easy recognition. When you are looking for the finest, there are 33 Grands Crus that you can choose from.
How can you choose the finest if you are a Sake lover?
The answer is Rice Polishing Ratio (Seimai-Buai in Japanese). It is the standard to differentiate the quality of Sakes. The Rice Polishing Ratio for Ordinary Sake (Futsu-shu) is 70% or less, but for Daiginjo and Junmai Daiginjo (Daiginjo without addition of brewers alcohol), it must be 50% or less. However, the control of Rice Polishing Ratio for Pure Rice Sake (Junmai-shu) is lifted in 2005, since there were more and more high quality products in this category. You may think Rice Polishing Ratio is no longer a reference for the quality of Sake, wait! Look at the new Super Polished Rice trend in the Sake world, there are Sake breweries pushing the limit and made products with single-digit Rice Polishing Ratio!
Raifuku Junmai Daiginjo Ultra 8, the champion of Sake Competition Super Premium 2016, is one of the extreme examples, and the Rice Polishing Ratio is as low as 8%! Although the brewery has been making Sake for more than 300 years, it keeps exploring and experimenting. Apart from the Super Polished Rice Sake, they also work with Tokyo Agricultural University to apply flower yeasts in Sake fermentation. Hitachinishiki, the rice (Shuzo-Kotekimai) for brewing the Raifuku Junmai Daiginjo Ultra 8 is also a product from scientific experiments, which is considered more suitable for growing in the climate condition of Ibaraki Prefecture.
Is it the finest of fine? No. After the challenge of 8%, Raifuku launched another Super Polished Rice Sake - Junmai Daiginjo Fantastic 7, the Rice Polishing Ratio is incredibly 7%! Records are made to be broken, let's see if Raifuku is going to challenge the finest again.