Ryoga Nakamura

・MSc Viticulture/Oenology, Vinifera Euro Master, SupAgro
・Awarded for Sommelier Scholarship Competition by Japan Sommelier Association in 2022


Sakeist Box Webinar in February, we welcomed David Biraud who has won second prize at the Best Sommelier of the world in 2016, and Mr. Nagai from Gunma Prefecture's Nagai-Shuzo which is a leading sparkling sake producer.

We talked and tasted about their sake, and had various discussions.



 Nagai-Shuzo is a historical sake brewery established since 1886 in Kawaba Village, Gunma prefecture, which was registered as a geographical designation as GI Tonenumata in 2021.

Their sparkling sake "Mizubasho Pure" is officially registered as "awasake" which is a sparkling sake made using the same production method as Champagne. "Mizubasho Pure" has been highly acclaimed overseas, winning the Platinum Award & Jury Award at the 2020 Kura Master Competition.



Water is very important to David when he tastes sake.

He has visited sake breweries many times and always tastes water used for brewing sake when he visits them.

The most important word in the wine industry is "terroir”.

He says that water is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about terroir in the sake production.

This is understandable, because water accounts for about 80% of the total amount of raw material of sake production.

He has tasted French mineral water and Japanese mineral water in comparison, and he chose Japanese mineral water for his preference as a French sommelier.



Another unique aspect of sake brewing that David emphasizes is koji mold.

While wine is made by fermentation of grapes and yeast alone, sake requires the addition of another microorganism, koji mold.

The process of making sake is more complex and requires more work by hands than the process of making wine.



We tasted two sakes “Mizubasho Pure” and “Mizubasho Junmai-daiginjo”.


The most impressive thing about Mizubasho Pure is the fineness of the bubbles.

This is due to secondary fermentation in the bottle, the same method used for Champagne.

All elements are elegant and the lingering taste with a hint of umami will expand a variety of food pairings.

One of the most important elements of the dishes introduced by David is the sense of iodine that reminds us of the sea, and a crispy texture.

Dishes with caviar are especially good, the lingering salty and umami flavors make for a wonderful synergistic pairing.



Mizubasho Junmai-daiginjo has a great balance of freshness and volume, and its subtle salty and umami flavors broaden the range of dishes to which it can be paired.

Many of the dishes David introduced had Japanese essence, such as miso, soba, and matcha green tea, which showed that Japanese ingredients and culinary methods are attracting attention in the gastronomic world as well.



 Finally, he says that "history" and "pairing" are important points for the future promotion of sake in the French market.

The reason why wine is enjoyed in France is because it is a culture.

The history of wine is deeply rooted in France, and there is a widespread understanding that wine is something to be enjoyed with meals.

How about sake in Japan?

This seminar made me think that in order for more people to enjoy sake in the future, we should communicate its history and how to enjoy it with meals.


Ryoga Nakamura

・MSc Viticulture/Oenology, Vinifera Euro Master, SupAgro
・Awarded for Sommelier Scholarship Competition by Japan Sommelier Association in 2022