Oysters: Queen of the desert – June 14, 2014

By Anthony Gismondi

The second Canadian Oyster Wine Pairing Competition was held earlier this spring in the unlikely town of Osoyoos, B.C. I say unlikely because oysters and Osoyoos seems an odd pairing, given one comes from the ocean while the other is a small town at the northern end of the Sonoran Desert. But oysters and wine is an age-old match and in this case it was the pairing of British Columbia wine with British Columbia oysters that rightly brings two seemingly diverse products together.

The model, so to speak, was The American Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition created by Jon Rowley of Seattlea��s Taylor Shellfish. The Seattle-based tasting of oysters and wine thata��s been running for 20 years has attracted a wide food and wine audience. But in keeping with what we now know about vineyard sites, and yes oyster beds, they are all different. Going local means we needed a competition closer to home and, with all due respect, I believe our wines, grown on cooler sites, and our diverse selection of oyster beds, contribute to an even more electric combination of food and wine, hence a much-needed B.C. event.

The second-year B.C. competition drew some 120 entries that were divided into eight categories. In fact, it was open to any wine made in Canada. By all accounts the tasting/pairing was great fun. I know oysters are not for everyone but then neither is blue cheese, yet both have their legions of followers. order z-pak online

As to what type of wine goes best with oysters, well, we will share the winners with you shortly but, after 20 years, judges at The American Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition have come up with some interesting thoughts. It is all about a�?A narrow band of wine styles and characteristics that work well with oysters, a vibrant combination of sweetness (glycogen), minerals and the sea.a�?

I love what past judges have said about the wines that work best. The traits or characteristics may seem almost obvious to the experienced but they are well worth thinking about. The best of the remarks include wines that are: brisk and clean, citric or with a mineral undercurrent, light and fresh, acid and chalk, dry, steely, chilled to a crisp, sharp, fierce acidity, dry as bone, clean as a whistle, lean, austere and something with mineral with a clean slicing finish.

Well, you get the picture a�� nothing fat, sweet or oaky works. In year two in Osoyoos, herea��s what the judges thought were the best of the wines entered at the 2014 Canadian Oyster Wine Pairing Competition.

Best of Show: Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery 2010 a�?The Onea�? Sparkling Pinot Blanc

Best Pinot Blanc: Gray Monk Estate 2012; runner-up: Wild Goose Vineyards 2013

prednisone injection cost Un-Oaked Chardonnay: Mt. Boucherie 2012; runner-up: Gray Monk 2012

Oaked Chardonnay: Poplar Grove 2011 Reserve; runner-up: Bench 1775 Winery 2012

Riesling: Konzelmann Estate 2012; runner-up: Monster Vineyards 2012

Pinot Gris: Bench 1775 Winery 2013, runner-up: Gray Monk 2013

Sauvignon Blanc: aciphex generic otc La Frenz Winery 2013; runner-up: Bench 1775 Winery 2013

Sparkling: Noble Ridge 2010 a�?The Onea�? Sparkling Pinot Blanc; runner-up Sperling Vineyards Brut 2009

Wild Card: Black Hills Cellar Hand 2012 Free Run White

The competition results inspired me to ask a few of Vancouvera��s noted sommeliers and wine buyers what they would serve with oysters. Andrea Vescovi, wine director at Blue Water CafA�, responded to my request to pick two wines you can buy in government stores, one local and one imported.

His B.C. choice was Sperling Old Vines Riesling 2011, $32 (winery direct) from Kelownaa��s Mission District, while on the import side he went for the top-selecting Taittinger Brut RA�serve Champagne $63. Vescovi says: a�?On the half shell, I love our local oysters a�� Chefa��s Creek from Deep Bay and Kusshi from Cortes Island. I try to recommend a wine thata��s clean on the palate and highlights the subtle flavours the oysters reveal.a�?

Across town at the home of Indian food, Mike Bernardo, the wine director at Vija��s, says he is a fan of oysters on the half shell a�?with a light sauce and fresh horse radish.a�?

His wine picks are impeccable a�� the local selection from Naramata Bench is the archetype Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc 2012, $19, while his go-to bubble is Champagne Bollinger N/V Special CuvA�e.

In Kitsilano, Julie Pegg, co-buyer of the B.C. wine portfolio at the Kitsilano Wine Cellar, suggested flinty and fruity is the style required, so Chablis (hardly a surprise, the stony terroir was formed by fossilized oyster shells) makes her list. Second up is a�?muscadet, and (yup) sometimes Pinot Noir.a�? As for her picks, she to recommends Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc, $19, championing its a�?crisp, citrus vibrant, hint of flinta�? flavours. From Europe, her choice is William FA?vre Champs Royaux Chablis 2012, $32 pills online . a�?Also crisp with lots of mineral.a�?

When it comes to the all-important matching, Pegg offers a�?A short thought on pairing oysters and wines. Really fine-tuning oysters and wine depends on the oyster. Some are fruity, others more tangy and briny; still others hint at flavours of cucumber or lettuce. Cooked oysters call for more fruit-driven wines. I like New Orleans cornmeal-crusted oysters with California Sauvignon or Fume Blanc. Favourite local oysters include Effingham (briny, with those cucumber/lettuce notes). Have had some lovely Summer Ice in, well, summer when oysters can be a bit tricky.a�?

Personally, I like my oysters a little crunchy in texture and my wine to display a touch of salinity mixed with citrus and freshness. Few places in the world can boast crisp, fresh local wines and a wealth of diverse local oysters. We are blessed in this little corner of the world.


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