. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: Oysters and Wine

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Oysters and Wine

Oysters: they seem to be the theme lately. I'm certainly not complaining - I'm actually very grateful every time I get to experience the mineral salinity of those sea jewels.
On Saturday night, Nick called for a delivery and told me that he had a healthy amount of oysters, and that he'd like to have a red with them. He also invited me over for some, but I was alone at the store and told him that I couldn't. But I was a bit jealous.
So, he decided instead to bring the goods down to me. In return, I promised that I would take care of the wine.
I had a bottle of Dorigo Schioppettino 2004 that needed to be tasted, and that's what I opened first. After the passing of the deadly spider (Phylloxera) in Italy, the native Friulian Schioppettino grapes were almost totally destroyed. They were still further neglected in favor of international varietals, making Schioppettino a bit of a rarity.
While Nick was opening the shells, I uncorked the wine and let it breath for a minute; the color was deep red and the nose was showing red berries and violets, then developing some peppery hints.
Upon tasting, I found a pleasantly balanced earthy and floral palate, sweet tannins and long mineral finish. It was just perfect for the "pearl makers".
The oysters were slightly creamy, and you could clearly have the freshness of the sea in your mouth and in your mind. Those pure, indigenous flavors of the environment were the oysters grow blended masterfully with the Schioppettino, which also showed the intensity and asperity of the soil that hosted the plants.
After that, I was looking to go even deeper down into the concept of terroir. I wanted to taste the true depths of the soil in a wine. So, I went down to my cellar and opened up a bottle of Jean Louis Chave Saint Joseph 1999 - 100% Syrah from the north Rhone.
I have to stop my story for a second now, to tell about the Syrah that became Shiraz that then turned again into Syrah, and will likely soon become the Varietal Formerly Known As Syrah. The main character of this side plot is a vine called Syrah, named after the town that most likely gave birth to the vines. The bad guy is once again that "maledetto" (little bug) that ate 80% of the European vitis viniferae roots. And the costar, where the story ties into the main plot, is Messieur Chave, great grandfather of Jean Louis.
In the mid 1800s, a few Australian vigneron came to Chave's door, attracted by those blue small grains, and came back to Australia with some of the plants packed in paper - small cuttings to test in the Australian soil and climate.
In the late 1800s, darkness fell, and our friend the bug did his deadly deeds to Europe, sparing very few vintners the crushing blow of parasitic infestation. Chave was not lucky enough to be spared in the onslaught, and his vines were all but ruined. Desperate but resourceful, he decided to seek out those Australian vigneron, and try to recover his plants - maybe even in stronger form.
After a long journey, he succeeded, and today as a result, we are still able to enjoy one the most terroir-expressive grapes I have tasted so far in my life.
Now; back to our oysters.
By the time the Saint Joseph arrived, there were still few morsels left in the bowl, along with some smoked trout. the Saint Joseph was red with orange reflections, full and herbal... it took us for a journey to the center of the earth. It was like a Jules Verne adventure.
Also, this Syrah worked well with our food, the terroir once again blending with the sea's depth.
Then, on Monday I met up with Richard Dinitto, a fellow blogger visiting New York, at Balthazar... where the salty shells made another magical appearance along with two stories of delicious shell fish: steamed mussel, razor clams, crab, shrimps, scallops with ceviche-style topping, two kinds of oysters, and sea snails. It was like food Disneyland.
Richard, his wife Margaret and their friends, a lovely couple from New Hampshire, were in ecstasy as well in front of that decadent plate.
The choice of wine was Tempier Bandol Rouge 2004 followed by an outstanding Bordeaux Château Prieuré-Lichine from Margaux 1998 which we drank with our main course.
What a week end great company, outstanding food and just perfect wines...


DiNitro said...

Well have to thank Gabrio for suggesting Balthazar, as I would not have been able to get us in there on short notice. The food was a veritable Disneyland and just wonderful beyond all expectations. I cannot wait to go back there. I should also mention the Brandade plate was to die for as well.

Thanks Gab for the opportunity to share good food and wine with you!

De Vino said...

Any time Richard :)

Tracie B. said...

ooo i had that dorigo schioppettino in san daniele! yum :) definitely a burly little friulano.