- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cono Sur, Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley (Chile), 2006, $10

Tis the season for, among other things, oysters freshly shucked on the half shell.

A holiday tradition in many countries, oysters can be a special treat here in America, at home and dining out. All sorts of bright, crisp white wines pair well with oysters, but the best choice quite clearly is youthful, unoaked sauvignon blanc.

How can I be so sure? For the past 10 years, I’ve served as one of the lead judges at the Old Ebbitt Grill Oyster Wine Competition in Washington.

Each year, producers and importers submit wines (nearly 400 in 2006) to be evaluated with oysters. All the wines are sampled blind — that is, without the judges knowing what they are. And every year, the winner turns out to be a sauvignon blanc.

This particular varietal marries so well with oysters because it tends to taste bracing, a bit like the ocean itself. Sauvignon’s vibrant citrus flavors complement the briny bivalves perfectly.

Cono Sur’s 2005 sauvignon blanc from Chile was this year’s champion oyster wine, winning the competition by the widest margin to date. It tastes of grapefruit and lemon, with a faintly herbal or grassy undertone, and has a smooth rather than overly acidic texture. It also happens to be value-priced. If you’re an oyster lover, this is a wine well worth buying by the case.

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