For the love of sake, I put together a small private party for Mariko Leveille before she heads back to Europe to start her sake brewing project. The point was to present and be able to exchange about “Nature Nature”, a kijoshu like sake (sake brewed from sake) that I had tasted under its moromi form (fermenting mash) when I visited Hanatomoe (Miyoshino jouzou) near Yoshino (Nara) in March. That is where Mariko has spent the brewing season, and Nature Nature is her special brew. It became a great opportunity to hear first-hand about the Chevalier craft beer&sake project from Christophe and Stephane Fernandez the owners as well. They are not only launching a brewery for beer and sake in Mazamet (Tarn, France), they will become the first Europeans to try to grow sakamai (sake rice) of current Japanese origin in Europe (Miyamanishiki and Gohyakumangoku), in Camargue more precisely. They receive the help of a farmer named Bernard Poujol, who has adopted the organic Aigamo method quite a few years ago already (he releases and raises ducks in the field, which control the development of weed and parasites), and grows a rice variety possibly suitable for sake brewing (still needs to be tested; variety name is larolat?) already. When Christophe and Stephane obtain their sake brewing yeast from local flowers, and the local rice polishing plant can accommodate their rice production for fine polishing, this may become a true premium Southern France terroir sake. I am impressed!
Exchanges between sake fans, journalists, Alexandre the flying sommelier or Fabien the cheese maker, confirmed the skills of the lady who will be the toji at Chevalier (in charge of sake brewing). Thank you Soma san for welcoming us at The Hangar.