Fukushima sake takes top international prize(会津ほまれ「世界一」 ロンドン品評会、福島県初)

Homare Sake Brewery Co. President Hiroyuki Karahashi, right, and Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori celebrate the victory of the brewery’s Aizu Homare Banshu Yamadanishiki Junmai Daiginjo, far left, in the International Wine Challenge’s sake division in London on July 16. (ほまれ酒造の唐橋社長(右)と受賞を祝う内堀知事=16日、ロンドン)

 LONDON - A brand of sake from Kitakata, Fukushima Prefecture, has been chosen as this year's "champion sake" by the International Wine Challenge, the world's largest wine competition.

Homare Sake Brewery Co.'s Aizu Homare Banshu Yamadanishiki Junmai Daiginjo was chosen in July as the overall winner of the IWC's sake division, the largest sake competition outside Japan.

 世界最大規模のワイン品評会、インターナショナル・ワイン・チャレンジ(IWC)は7月、SAKE(日本酒)部門の今年の最優秀賞「チャンピオン・サケ」に、ほまれ酒造(喜多方市)の「会津ほまれ 播州産山田錦仕込 純米大吟醸酒」を選んだ。同部門は日本国外で最大の日本酒品評会。

 This is the first time a brewery in Fukushima Prefecture has won the top sake prize, demonstrating to the world the prefecture's resilience as its products struggle with problems related to the nuclear crisis.


 "This is a wonderful thing for all the sake breweries in the prefecture," Homare Sake Brewery President Hiroyuki Karahashi, 42, said at the awards ceremony in London. "We've proved we have the skills that have made us No. 1 in Japan, winning the gold medal [at the Annual Japan Sake Awards] three years in a row."

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori also attended the ceremony.


 The IWC's sake division is judged by people highly knowledgeable about sake, including sales around Europe. This year 876 brands from around Japan were submitted in seven categories, including junmai sake and ordinary sake.

Aizu Homare won for the first time in the junmai ginjo and junmai daiginjo category.


 Four years and four months after the March 2011 disaster, the nuclear crisis is still casting a shadow over Fukushima Prefecture's products. The atmosphere surrounding sake is no exception: Exports to China, South Korea and other countries have been suspended, and brewers in the prefecture must still conduct independent radiation tests.


 "It will take time, but all we can do is change our image through good taste," Karahashi said. "I hope the award helps dispel misinformation about the prefecture."


 Despite Fukushima sake receiving such international recognition, the prefecture still tends to have a dark image due to the nuclear crisis, Karahashi said with moist eyes. "I want children to be proud they live in Fukushima Prefecture. I want this to contribute, if only a little bit, to shaping their dreams and futures," he said.


 Uchibori said, "International recognition of sake from our prefecture, which suffers from misinformation, will give our reconstruction bid a boost.

                           ( Translated by The Japan News )


 International Wine Challenge

 The IWC was founded in 1984, and receives more than 13,000 entries from around the world. The sake division was established in 2007. The overall champion sake is chosen from winners in seven categories: junmai; junmai ginjo and junmai daiginjo; honjozo; ginjo and ginjo daiginjo; koshu, ordinary sake; and sparkling.

 インターナショナル・ワイン・チャレンジ(IWC) 1984年に創立されたワイン品評会。全世界から1万3000以上の銘柄が出品される。SAKE(日本酒)部門は2007年に創設。純米酒、純米吟醸酒・純米大吟醸酒、本醸造酒、吟醸酒・大吟醸酒、古酒、普通酒、スパークリングの7部門の「トロフィー」受賞酒から世界一の「チャンピオン・サケ」を選ぶ。

 【 2015年7月18日・本紙掲載 】