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The Jiji news site has a report from the Shinto Tsushin PR media company on the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (CMB) and its new sake division.

The CMB has been running for over 25 years as an international wine competition, but is taking its first sip of sake as of this year. The first round of their sake contest, or “SAKE selection”, will be held in Toba, Mie Prefecture, in October.

SAKE selection will invite sake importers, specialist magazine editors, writers and sommeliers from Europe and North America as judges to capitalise on their experience of the alcohol market outside Japan. The head judge is Sylvain Huet, organiser of the Salon du Sake [which takes place in Paris, also in October 2018] and head of the French support desk of the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (JSS).

Up to five judges will be nominated as “sake ambassadors” who will continue to promote the competition and winners. Just as wine sommeliers have played a critical role in popularising wine in Japan, the sake ambassadors will spread the word about sake‘s charms and how to integrate it into Western dining habits.

An announcement ceremony will be held in the Belgian embassy in Tokyo in November 2018, and the award ceremony will take place in early 2019 in Brussels’ Grand-Place, famous for its carpet of flowers, with an additional ceremony at the Japanese embassy in Brussels.

The winners will be announced inside Japan and internationally, and expect that a medal from the CMB will boost name recognition, open up new trade routes and give them an opportunity to expand in Western markets. It’s also hoped that selection by consumers will give sake producers an incentive to improve their technique.

The seven categories are:

  • Junmai daiginjō
  • Junmai ginjō
  • Junmai (and tokubetsu junmai)
  • Ginjō (and daiginjō)
  • Honjōzō (and tokubetsu honjōzō)
  • Sparkling sake
  • Jukusei koshu

Namazake is not accepted, only pasteurised sake is allowed. The deadline for entries is 31 August 2018, and entry fee is JPY 32,400 per sake (tax included).

Mie has strong connections with sake, including being the home of Ise Grand Shrine which exemplifies sake‘s roots as a religious offering and also holds the Kannamesai festival every October to bless barrels of omiki (sake offered to the gods of the Shinto pantheon) from breweries all over the country.

The competition will be held Thu 11 – Sat 13 October 2018 in the Thalassa Shima Hotel and Resort. Supporters include the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan National Tourist Organisation (JNTO), Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), Chubu District Transportation Bureau, Japan Sommelier Association, the Belgian Embassy to Japan, and many media companies, local governments and businesses.

The SAKE Selection Japanese site (linked below) says entry is possible until 11 September 2018, and bottles must be between 3-21 September. It also says there will be a sake seminar and welcome party starting from the evening of 10 October 2018.