We’re seriously back on our oyster kick, after the long drought that saw oyster sales banned due to the risk of Vibrio Vulnificus. That’s the disease that oysters carry which can cause serious food poisoning, which in some cases can be fatal. While I’m not crazy about Vancouver Coastal Health Authority’s insistence that restaurants print raw shellfish warnings even when there is no real risk, because of the abnormally high water temperatures, I was in agreement with this particular measure. Although, it did cause a lot of people hardship.
But happily, here we are now, in the midst of the ‘R’ months, when oysters are usually at their prime.
Last week I was at Vancouver’s Rodney’s Oyster Bar—for the first time in quite a while. The occasion: a mini bivalve bonanza, paired up with the wines of Joseph Mellot.
This 502 year old producer has been making wine since 1513. And makes Sauvignon Blanc as only Sancerre and the Loire Valley can do.
The best oyster wines can be summed up as “less is more,” where the fruit is present but not overt, the acidity prevalent and the core of the palate wrapped in stony layers with a bone dry finish. Champagne or sparking wine will always suffice and steely Riesling is often plain wicked. But to be fair, it’s tough to beat Sancerre.
This tasting yielded a couple of worthy wines.
The crisp and bright Mellot Sincérité Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Loire Valley), sports floral and fruity notes before a fresh and lively palate. Cue the beach oysters, please—and don’t chill it down too much. It’s best to let white wines stand at room temperature for 20 minutes or so before serving. Private Wine Stores, around $21. 90 pts.
For more complex flavoured, ‘special occasion’ oysters such as Pearl Bay or Kusshi try bumping things up a notch and you’ll be well rewarded. I reckon Kusshi oysters with Joseph Mellot La Chatellenie AOC Sancerre 2014 is a slam dunk. This oyster wine has a distinctly flinty streak, thanks to the flint and silica based soils that exemplify the best sites in Sancerre. With fresh citrus and stony notes up front, followed by a keenly focused, distinctly mineral, fresh palate and lingering close, this drop adds up to the perfect match. Also at private stores, around $35, 92 pts.
Note: these oysters were tasted ‘naked’. That is” without any dressing or sauce whatsoever.