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IWC Champion Sake Announced
EAT JAPAN Trade News
Saturday, 22 September 2012

National Trading Inc. Kimura Brewery had much to celebrate on the 11th September, when its Daiginjo Fukukomachi picked up the coveted the 6th Champion Sake 2012 Award at the world’s most rigorously judged independent wine competition, the IWC (International Wine Challenge). The Awards Dinner took place at Hilton Park Lane, London, with Mr Keiichi Hayashi, Ambassador of Japan in attendance.
Produced in the Akita prefecture in the Tohoku region, the Champion Sake fought off tough competition from 688 other brews, a record number of entries since the competition started 6 years ago. The judges described the winning sake as, “Soft and round with exotic grapefruit and umami. Tight with good acidity. Balanced texture and lovely length.”

Nine sake brewers headed to England from Japan. All wore tradition Japanese clothing

Mr Tadayuki Yoneyama
with trophy

Mr Tadayuki Yoneyama, MD of National Trading Inc. Kimura Brewery, said, “It feels like a dream. In truth, this year's sake was the first created by the new generation of young brewers we have been training. Winning this Champion Sake Award is proof that our refined craft of sake brewing has been successfully passed down from the older generation to the next. I can't tell you how moved I am thinking about this. I am also happy that we were awarded in this commercial competition, as it means our company is acclaimed for its sake brewing, bottling, labelling, packaging, and distribution as a whole. We have 400 years of brewing sake behind us, and I'd like to thank the generations of customers who have been drinking our product for this amount of time. Now we have been awarded this prize, I want to work even more actively to positively promote Japanese sake in Europe.”

There are five prize categories, and trophies are awarded following a taste off between the gold medals.

The following are the winners of each category:

1) Junmai Trophy:
Daishinshu NAC Hamanojo from Daishinshu Shuzo (Nagano prefecture)


2) Junmai Ginjo/Daiginjo Trophy:
Yukino bousha from Saiya Shuzo (Akita Prefecture)


3) Honjozo Trophy:
Myokozan from Myoko Shuzo (Niigata Prefecture)


4) Ginjo/Daiginjo Trophy:
Fukukomachi from National Trading Inc, Kimura Shuzo (Akita Prefecture)


5) Koshu Trophy:
Hanahato Kijoshu 8 years old from Enoki Shuzo (Hiroshima Prefecture)

The IWC Sake tasting took place in Japan this year since producers faced difficulty in exporting their products following the tsunami disaster. According to Sam Harrop MW, IWC Sake Co-chairman, it was the first time in the IWC's 29 year history that an evaluation had taken place overseas, thanks to the support and generous hospitality of the sake category’s official supporter, Sake Samurai. Next year, the tasters plan to return to London. Mr Harrop also expressed his thanks to the judges who had travelled to Japan.

Sam Harrop MW announces
the Sake Champion Award
Presentation of the Sake Champion Award

38 judges in total tasted through the sakes submitted from 292 sake breweries, from a panel made up of equal numbers of Western and Japanese judges.

Contributor Award winner Christine Parkinson,
presented by Rie Yoshitake (Sake Samurai
UK Rep and Kenji Ichishima (Sake Samurai)

The Sake Contributor Award 2012 was also presented at the event. The winner was Christine Parkinson, Wine & Non-Food Buyer of Hakkasan Limited Group. In 2001 Christine created the first wine list for Hakkasan, and then became Wine Buyer for the group, which includes Sake No Hana and the Michelin-starred restaurants Hakkasan and Yauatcha, which have worldwide operations. She travels regularly, visiting wine regions worldwide, and has spent time visiting sake brewers in Japan. Christine has judged sake with the IWC since 2007, and this Sake Contributor Award is a mark of recognition of her passion for supporting and promoting sake around the world.

For more information on the IWC and to see a complete list of all the winning sakes, please visit http://www.internationalwinechallenge.com.