White Wine & Oysters
With summer winding down and temperatures declining decidedly, it’s time to enjoy the bounty of oysters from our chilly Pacific waters.
Pairing wine with oysters – like any food and wine pairing – is really a matter of personal preference. Whites work better than reds. Oysters – and most other seafoods – clash with the tannins in red wines and create an astringent, metallic flavour.
From New Zealand’s famed Marlborough region Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (100594) $19.99 is available in some stores for $14.99 this month.
It offers up a bouquet of ripe gooseberries over grassy, herbal aromas and tropical fruit. Rich and almost sweet on first sip, it moves through nectarine and kiwi fruit flavours before finishing bright and crisp with subtle vegetal notes of canned peas.
Walk your favourite beach at low tide and hunt up a few oysters. The salty minerality of these salt water bivalve molluscs seems to enhance the subtle fruity qualities of lean, dry white wines. Finding truly dry white wines is easier in France, Italy and Spain.
Bargain priced and devoutly undiscovered Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne (761387) $15.99 is a little treasure from France’s
Côtes de Gascogne IGP. It takes a blend of Colombard, Ugni-Blanc, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc - and adds Chardonnay and Petit Manseng. Rich ripe melon and peach aromas and flavours are spritzed with honeyed white pepper in the finish.
Credited with aphrodisiac qualities, oysters are very high in zinc. The mineral helps the body produce testosterone, a hormone critical in regulating women's and men's libido and sexual function. It also reputedly enhances your immune system, helps get rid of acne, eases rashes and makes your bones stronger.
An unusual offering from Italy, made entirely from Passerina grapes,
Barone di Vallforte Passerina (508309) $18.79 is a rich, full bodied white that leads with aromas and flavours of lemon and grapefruit, dried pineapple and a core of mineral and herbs.
Albarino is a specialty white wine grape, highly regarded in north-western Spain and an important ingredient in many Portugese Vinho Verdes. Stag’s Hollow Albarino (739326) $24.99 is an Okanagan Valley version of this “Old World” wine. All ripe honeyed peaches on first sip, this Albarino develops lean and citric chalky minerality after an hour of being opened. Nicely done!
Favoured by many aficionados, Kusshi oysters are grown in floating trays and tumbled very aggressively. This breaks off the thin growing
edge and forces them to deepen and thicken their shells. The resulting oyster, called a Kusshi, Japanese for “precious,” is almost as deep as it is long.
The Bourdy family has been in the wine growing/making business since 1475. Their estate in France is just east and south Burgundy’s Cote D'Or in the Jura region. They specialize in well-aged, late released wines, densely flavoured and full of character.
A traditional regional specialty but still an unusual kind of Chardonnay, Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura Blanc (826297) $31.79 could be the most interesting white wine most wine lovers ever encounter. More savoury than fruity, it leads with a nutty almond edge, some sage, basil and even oregano notes and finishes with a sprinkling of salt and a twist of anise.
The deliberate aging before release and those savoury notes that produces make the 2009 Bourdy Cotes du Jura Blanc one of the most exciting choices for pairing with the rich, salt and seaweed character of raw oysters – particularly Kusshis!
On the relationship between oysters and Sauvignon Blanc, Rowan Jacobsen, author of 2016’s guide “The Essential Oyster” boldly states: “From Sancerre to Sonoma County, Sauvignon Blanc has always been the insider’s oyster wine. That zesty combination of cascading acidity and bright citrus notes is all the sauce an oyster needs.”
A classic from France’s Loire Valley, Domaine Jean-Paul Balland Sancerre Grande Cuvée (417014) $38.99 boasts a floral nose with a hint of spicy oak and minerality fruits over notes of yellow plums and flint.. Chalky, calcareous soil yields a naturally aromatic, fruity wine for which indigenous yeasts are used
A blend of 60 per cent Sonoma with 40 per cent Napa grapes, Spotteswood Sauvignon Blanc (747212) $55.49 has layers of flavor – a medley of white peach, guava, and nectarine. A wine of great creamy complexity, it is both richly fruity and elegantly floral.
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