Fran├žois Chartier, the world's leading expert in aromas will present his latest findings on 'molecular sommelier' at Madrid Fusion The Wine Edition and present his new line of sakes as Master Blender of the Tanaka 1789 X Chartier project.

You are currently doing research in the world of sake. How did you make the leap?

Japan and I have a long history. I have always been fascinated by the culture, philosophy and gastronomy of this country, and therefore by sake. I think our connection started in 1992, when I was studying for the World Sommelier Competition, which was held in Tokyo in 1995. Then in 1995, on my first trip to Japan during this competition in Tokyo, I was very inspired by all the sake breweries I visited around Kobe, Kyoto and Tokyo. It was two weeks of immersion to try to understand this culture and discover its richness in depth, as well as to better understand the complexity of this historic noble rice beverage.

Since then, I have visited Japan more than 50 times and have studied and analyzed sake with my aromatic science of Molecular Harmonies to match and better understand the incredible production process and the very complex aromatic profile of the different sakes.

In 2017, Mrs. Wakana Tabata (Tanaka Shuzoten sake brewery, where today we brew the Tanaka 1789 X Chartier project sakes) called me to find a way to revolutionize and bring something new to her kura. The idea to make the first sake blend was born there, and also to be Master Blender of the Tanaka 1789 X Chartier project. Now I am also the executive producer. For almost 30 years, my relationship with sake and Japanese culture has been unbreakable and I feel that the journey has just "started again".

Why is it said that your blends have generated a revolution in the sake world?

After spending a few days in the kura (sake cellar), I realized that the "art of blending" is well known in Champagne, sherry, port, whiskies and even Bordeaux Grand Cru wines, but it does not exist in the universe of Nihonshu (sake produced in Japan). This is how my journey as a Master Blender began: increasing, magnifying, multiplying the base sakes thanks to the art of blending.

To achieve an incredible blend, I changed 10 stages of the production process to obtain various styles and profiles of sake. The result is a sake with more versatility and complexity. In Tanaka 1789 X Chartier we tried to make a sake for wine lovers, produced and thought for them, without losing the soul of sake. When I made the blend, I took into account my tastings of the best white wines to approach this aromatic profile: the great Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley and the incredible Chardonnay from Meursault. It is still a sake with a sake soul, but with a more natural acidity, with a long aging potential and an ability, even a duality, to pair with a wide range of foods.

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