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The Bluff oyster season begins at the start of March and concludes on August 31 (or earlier if the year's quota is reached), with devotees eagerly looking forward to their annual taste(s) of this delicacy.
Some love them cooked, others insist on them raw: whichever your preference, there are several sublime wine pairings to take the experience to another level.
Wine Freedom in Dunedin recently held its annual Oyster & Wine Matching Tasting, with customers invited to bring their own oysters, while Paul assembled a group of possible wine matches.
Champagne or methode traditionelle is one of the classic pairings; the savoury notes from the yeast finding umami in the oyster, while the textural contrast of the bubbles with the velvety richness of the shellfish is superb.
Chablis: Chardonnay from the north of Burgundy in France (youthful un-oaked Chardonnay is our closest alternative) often has a ''seashell''-like note to it, which matches perfectly. The zesty acid also neatly cuts through the creaminess of the shellfish. Another inspired combo.
Albarinho: a grape from Northern Portugal and Spain, which we now grow here, combines a richly textural palate with citrus notes and a saline twang that seems destined to pair with shellfish.
Sauvignon Blanc (particularly Sancerre or Bordeaux sav/sem blends) and drier Vouvray/Chenin Blanc and Riesling can also be a success, while a left field (and harder to find) option is the Greek white grape Assyrtiko, though one perhaps surprising combo is stout. Black vs white, the rich creaminess of each a match, with the bitterness of the stout counteracting the saltiness of the oyster. An intriguing match.
Of course, you can create your own pairings: the experimentation is all part of the fun!
Interested in wine tastings, and learning more?
Wine Freedom runs regular themed tastings throughout the year. Go to www.winefreedom.co.nz to sign up for their newsletters.
Cableways Liquorland also runs a busy schedule of tastings, not just restricted to wine. To get on its mailing list email email@example.com
The Food & Wine Society has a vibrant chapter in Dunedin, which hosts regular food and wine matching dinners throughout the year.
Rating: Excellent to outstanding
Oatmeal biscuit, bready, savoury, a powerful nose. That power continues in the mouth, the richness filling every corner, with a beam of lemony citrus running through the wine. Stonefruit nuances on the front palate, with lanolin and sherbet adding a counterpoint to the bready/yeasty notes.
Great mousse and a very long, dry, crisp finish.
Rating: Very Good to Excellent
Subtle out of the blocks, hints of strawberry, musk and savoury nuances with bready/warm baguette notes growing over time. Supple mouth feel, nice integration, a little fruit sweetness balanced by the citrusy core, with some attractive savoury notes adding a bass note.
This grows in intensity, providing very appealing drinking.
Attractive nose, savoury elements, a wild almost funky note and tangy sourdough. Real drive and intensity to the palate, the yellow fruits offer richness, the citrus zestiness, while the powerful savoury notes give depth and weight. Nice integration here, refreshingly crisp, dry finish and excellent carry.
A nice example.