One of the most surprising Sakes we tasted a few weeks ago at a private tasting with our supplier, the Tanaka 1789 x Chartier is a very special Sake and one of the first of its kind. It was made in collaboration between 233-year-old brewery Tanaka located in Miyagi, Japan, and Quebec native, sommelier, and chef Francois Chartier. This is a profound Sake that combines the western winemaking process of blending with the Japanese tradition. Chartier won "Best Sommelier in the World" in 1994, also winning awards for best cookbook three times, twice in Paris and once in China, winning best food and wine pairing book in Paris too. Chartier has studied the effect of aromas on humans since the 80s and has been a member of the board of directors of the International Society of Neurogastronomy at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and U.K. HealthCare since 2015. Collaborating with some of the best chefs and restaurants in the world, including Ferran Adrià of the famed ElBulli in Spain, he set out to Japan with the hopes to do something new with Sake and ended up meeting up with Tanaka in 2018.
Francois was surprised that blending had not been introduced into Sake. There are multiple reasons for this; rigid categories with many brewers unwilling to ultimately lose their quality status on their higher quality Sakes like Junmai Daiginjo's, making it a harder sale because of customer education or purely out of tradition. Chartier's visit opened new doors for Tanaka and Sake as a whole. After blending a series of Sakes on-site with the Tanaka team and proving that it was viable to blend different Sake, which enhanced the flavors and aromas, Tanaka hired him as Master Blender to work alongside the Master Brewer.
This is the first blend that the two made together and was ultimately designed to be versatile and paired with many foods with similarities to white wines from Burgundy and the Loire. Blend 001 was an instant success winning silver at the International Wine Challenge, the International Sake Challenge in London, and the U.S. National Sake Appraisal in 2020.
The 001 is an elegant Sake and shows incredible purity with notes of Basil, aniseed, peach, pineapple, coconut, and almond with a gorgeously textured mouthfeel like that of a Chardonnay. It is dense yet silky and energetic with excellent mid pallet weight and bright acids. It leads to a beautiful long finish that revisits the previous notes with a touch of minerals and is relatively dry. This is labeled as Junmai because it is a blend of different levels of polish which gives tremendous complexity to the finished product. Blend 001 is the first Sake designed to be paired with anything you would pair white wine with, ranging from cream sauces to fish; the possibilities are endless. This is highly recommended and has a bit of age, requiring at least two years before release. Today we have some of the only bottles outside Japan and at special low pricing for the USA.