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Sunday, 19 July 2015
Fukushima brewery wins first place in Int'l Wine Challenge sake category
A Fukushima Prefecture brew has taken first place in the sake category
at the International Wine Challenge (IWC), the world's largest
wine-tasting competition, held in London on July 16.
The "Champion Sake" was "Aizu Homare Banshu Yamada Junmai Daiginjo,"
from Homare Sake Brewery Co. in Kitakata, Fukushima Prefecture. Chosen
from among 876 applicants, it was the first Fukushima brand to take
first place since the sake category was established in 2007.
"This will help stop the damage from unfounded
rumors (about radiation contamination) after the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear
Power Plant disaster," said a source close to the brewery.
The IWC's sake category is one of the largest
sake-tasting competitions overseas, and past winners have seen a rush of
orders from both domestic and foreign customers. Half of the judges are
non-Japanese. They choose winners in seven subcategories and then
select the "Champion Sake" from among those seven.
This year, among the winners of the seven
subcategories was another Fukushima sake, "Yumegokoro," chosen as the
best brew in the "Futsu-shu" (normal) category.
The Aizu region, where Homare Sake Brewery Co. is
located, is around 100 kilometers from the disaster-hit Fukushima
plant, and was for the most part unaffected by it. Still, foreign sales
have taken a hit due to factors such as China and South Korea putting
restrictions on imports of Fukushima-brewed sake.
Homare Sake Brewery Co. President Hiroyuki
Karahashi commented, "It was painful when foreign customers said they
wanted to return our products because they were Fukushima-brewed. We are
still sometimes asked to produce certification" that the products are
not radioactively contaminated.
He added, "The efforts of local breweries to
create high-quality products that shake off the effects of unfounded
rumors have led to these contest victories. I hope winning these prizes
help Fukushima Prefecture's recovery."