Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Considering the oyster

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The good people at oenopole recently invited a number of local wine and food bloggers and writers to a workshop, possibly the first in an occasional series focused on pairing wines with a single food. In this case the food was raw oysters, Coville Bays to be precise. Impressively fresh and impeccably shucked, the medium-sized, meaty bivalves were some of the briniest I’ve tasted. Aside from four white wines, all that was on the table were mollusks on half shells, lemon wedges and bread – about as straightforward as it gets.

Bourgogne 2010, Sœur Cadette, Domaine de la Cadette ($18.25, 11460660)
In this vintage though maybe not for long, a négociant wine. 100% organically farmed Chardonnay. Slow-pressed, fermented in stainless steel with natural yeast. Matured 12 months in stainless steel tanks. Lightly filtered before bottling. 12.5% ABV.
Light lemon, chalk and quartz with a lactic note. Fresh and bracing on the palate, the fruit (lemon and green pear and apple) discreet. Taut with a tension between acidity and minerals. Long, clean, appetizingly sour finish. You won’t find a better brisk and minerally Chardonnay at the price.
> Lean and bright on its own, the wine was richer, rounder and fruitier with the oyster. A good match.

VDP des Cyclades 2011, Atlantis, Argyros ($16.65, 11097477)
Assyrtiko (90%), Aidani and Athiri (each 5%) from ungrafted vines. Fermented in stainless steel vats with selected yeasts. 13.0% ABV.
Rainwater on stones, crystal lemon, a hint of herbs. Denser than the Sœur Cadette but much less fruity, the sharp-edged minerals and trenchant acidity here softened by the wine’s weightiness. A saline tang flavours the finish. If possible, even better than the excellent 2010. Unbeatable QPR.
> A superb pairing, a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The wine’s minerality and brininess echoed the bivalves’ while its acidity cut their richness. In contrast to the Sœur, the wine’s flavour was little transformed by the naked oyster, though adding a few drops of lemon juice did bring out the otherwise shy fruitiness.

Champagne, Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Pascal Doquet ($43.25, 11528046)
100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the communes of Bassuet and Bassu. Vinified entirely in stainless steel. Matured six months, three of them on the lees. A blend of three vintages. 12.5% ABV.
Faintly floral, candied lemon, chalk, lees. Crisp and delineated yet soft and caressing. The flavours are clean and pure. Dry, the sweetness coming only from the fruit. Leaves on a mineral note. Beautiful and, once again, offering tremendous value.
> If an oyster transformed the Sœur Cadette, here it was the wine that transformed the oyster, amping up its seawater taste (iodine, saltiness, even fishiness). As these were already exceptionally briny oysters, that was perhaps too much of a good thing; I suspect the Champagne would work better with a milder oyster. As before, a squirt of lemon sweetened the wine.

Champagne grand cru 2002, Le Mesnil sur Oger, Brut, Pascal Doquet ($74.00, 11787291)
100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the Le Mesnil sur Oger vineyard. Based on the 2002 harvest (65%) with 35% reserve wines from 2001. About a third of the wine is matured in casks, the rest in tanks. 12.5% ABV.
Classic, refined champagne nose of brioche and yellow apple. Light, even ephemeral on the palate yet rich, complex, layered. Soft, fine effervescence. Some fruity sweetness is apparent on the attack; otherwise very dry. A load of minerals on the long finish. So elegant. A complete and beautiful wine comparable to blanc de blancs costing up to half again as much.
> Interacted with the oysters much like the non-vintage did, though a little less forcefully.

A last-minute addition:

Bourgogne 2011, Les Saulniers, Domaine de la Cadette ($47.00/1500ml, oenopole, six bottles/case)
100% organically farmed Chardonnay from a single parcel located on a path once used by salt smugglers, whence the name. Sorted on the vine, slow-pressed, fermented with native yeasts in wood and stainless steel vats. Lightly filtered before bottling.
Stony, ashy nose with some lemon/lime zest. Fluid. Dry. Pure. Weightier and rounder than its little sister though still acid-bright. Full of green apple, sweet lemon and mineral flavours. Long, clean finish. Tasty.
> Naked oysters made an acceptable pairing, lemoned oysters a better one.

As the crowd chatted and prepared to leave, the cork was popped on a magnum of the always delicious and refreshing Bisol Prosecco ($19.10/750 ml, 10839168; $40.25/1,500 ml, 11549349). Didn’t take notes but the fact that it didn’t taste like a letdown after such an excellent sequence of whites should tell you all you need to know.

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Written by carswell

December 17, 2012 at 13:18

One Response

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  1. […] for another of the agency’s workshops devoted to food and wine pairings (previously: oysters, Greek wines with non-Greek dishes). This atelier focused on charcuterie and Italian grape […]


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