A new writer joins SAKEMARU, who is the first sake brew master in Spain and the second in Europe. Humbert Conti tells us the trend of Europe and brand-new things of sake from non-Japanese brew master’s point of view. At first, it’s good to start to know about himself and his brewery.
Humbert Conti, the entrepreneur toji behind kensho
Humbert Conti has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. He studied environmental science & engineering and his passion for rice and Japanese gastronomy has led him to specialize in the production of sake. He was born and educated in Barcelona, and during 3 years he moved to the United States to complete their academic skills. After this international adventure, he returned to Barcelona to worked for some years in water treatment plants.
Till that day Humbert have nothing to do with sake, but there is a moment that changed the course of his life both personally and professionally. This was the day that he met his wife at a conference on the future of water management in Spain. She had grown up in the Delta del Ebro, in the midst of a culture rooted rice family in the area. The result of the influence of her and her family, was a strong influence to point his entrepreneurship spirit to the rice world.
True lover of Japanese cuisine after a dinner at the popular restaurant in Barcelona, Humbert tasted a junmai daiginjo sake in cold glass of wine, and had an eureka because not only love it, if not that this was the rice project that he had been looking for some time. From that moment, in 2008, he began to investigate during years about this beverage to see if he could produce it, where he began an extensive tour to learn the secrets of making sake, where he studied in Japan and in California. Finally in 2015 his project saw light and was called KENSHO.
KENSHO, the first Mediterranean sake
Kensho is a Zen word that means “Discover Nature”. This term defines perfectly this family company located in a traditional Catalan farmhouse in the Ebro’s Delta, Spain, a pioneer company in the brewing of natural Mediterranean sake. Kensho It is the first sake brewed in Spain and the second in Europe.
The goal of Kensho Mediterranean Sake is to let you discover the Mediterranean nature through sakes made according the Japanese artisan tradition, but with rice from Ebro’s Delta (a biosphere reserve by UNESCO) and spring water from Benassal, located in Castellón, which gives the sake its distinctive Mediterranean flavor .
Kensho sakes are produced in the traditional farmhouse called Kan Kensho, since fusion Catalan and Japanese culture is one of our goals. It is located in L’Ampolla, known as the door of Ebro’s Delta, an area with an unmatched environmental value.
Rice form Delta’s Ebro: Value added rice
The rice from Ebro’s delta grows in a Mediterranean climate, under the influence of sea salt, sun, olive trees and orange trees. This rice provides to the sake fruity & citric flavors.
The Ebro’s delta is declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, due to its characteristics that make it a unique Mediterranean ecosystem.
What makes Kensho different from other sakes is its Mediterranean personality. Kensho do not use any variety of Japanese rice, every grain used originates from Ebro’s delta. Not all rice varieties works to get a good sake, but after years understanding sakemai we found one variety that can grow in Ebro’s Delta and work perfectly for the personality we cant to give to kensho sake. For the moment our sakes have a 70% seimaibuai and the rice variety is called Marisma.
Water quality is another key point to the development of a good sake. Kensho use Benassal mineral water, a spring from Castellon. It is a medium-hard water, which creates a more defined sake. This water is a key point in order to achieve the flavors we want, because this water gives more aromas that let this sake pair with Mediterranean & european food, more emphatic than the Japanese food.
All sakes brewed by kensho are junmai style
Tokubetsu (Special) JUNMAI (pure rice)
It is a special sake, because it has fruity notes typical from the mediterranian .
• Aroma: strong with notes of vanilla, orange, apple and melon.
• Taste: smooth, slightly fruity.
• Appearance: yellow, similar white wine
• seimaibuai: (70%)
• Graduation: 13,5-14º
• Food pairing: Ideal for Japanese food (sushi), fish, seafood and vegetables.
• service temperature: 10-20 °
• glass: glass of white wine, wide-mouthed guinomi or sakazuki.
Nigori (cloudy sake)
It is a creamy & traditional sake
• Aroma: less aromatic with light fruity notes, orange, apple and melon.
• Taste: fruity, lactic and a with rice and vegetable flavor.
• Appearance: creamy, like rice milk.
• seimaibuai: (70%)
• Graduation: 12º
• Pairing: ideal for food with umami, like spanish ham, cheese, pork or eel.
• temperature: 7º (cool)
• glass: Japanese ceramic sake cup (ochoko or small guinomi) .
Besides Japanese cuisine, kensho strongly recommend pairing tokubetsu junmai with oysters & seafood, thanks to its lightness and very low acidity that do not disturb the delicateness of seafood.
Our nigori sake has a lot of ‘umami’ (tastiness), so we recommend strong pairings with ell or foods with umami such as spanish ham, miso and parmesan cheese, which gives you a perfect tool to pair this dishes by its umami.