Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Match Made in Heaven

I spent the weekend at a friend's house in Martha's Vineyard, perhaps the DRC of New England's summer vacation spots. We did a lot of playing outdoors, and also a good amount of cooking, eating, and drinking. We drank some very delicious things, but the wine I was thinking about when I woke up this morning was the Muscadet. We drank it with oysters and clams, and it was just ridiculous.

Everyone says that Muscadet and oysters is a match made in heaven, and they're right. There are plenty of wines that are great with oysters, but Muscadet is a truly special pairing. When it's right, the wine amplifies the oyster, and vice-versa, and they almost begin to taste like one another. Or it could be that I'm not a fastidious eater, and liquor from the oyster gets on the rim of my glass, but I think you should ignore that possibility right now and just work with me on this.

Most Muscadet is aged for something like 9 months on the lees and then bottled, and these wines can be great. My favorites include Marc Ollivier's Clos des Briords, Guy Bossard's Expression de Granite, and Jo Landron's Fief de Breil. Some of the top Muscadet producers also hold certain wines from old vines and from specific terroirs and age them for two or three years on the lees. These wines can also be great and they offer a slightly different kind of pleasure - they tend to be richer and a bit fuller in body. Marc Ollivier's Granite de Clisson and Luneau Papin's Excelsior Clos des Noelles are two examples that have become easier to find on retail shelves. One that is harder to find but well worth the search is André-Michel Brégeon's Gorgeois. This wine comes from Gabbro soils, the black granite (I think it is granite - please add your .02 if I'm wrong) that sits underneath the clay on the hills around the town of Gorges. The vines are very old and the wine is aged for at least two years on the lees.

A few years ago in NYC there was a cache of bottles from the 2000 vintage. I bought a little bit and drank it all, and it was fantastic wine. I was overjoyed to find that my friend had saved a bottle and we drank it this weekend in Martha's Vineyard, with oysters. It's hard to separate the beauty of the wine from the beauty of the experience of drinking it, standing at the sink, oyster and clam shells everywhere, sun streaming in through the windows, the sweet summer smell of the air.

The wine smelled like oyster liquor and preserved lemons and anise seed, and it was fresh and lively, still growing. It was perfectly balanced, still vibrant with acidity and minerality, and showed complex flavors that were part saline and part herbs and rocks. At 10 years plus, the wine was not fierce the way young Brégeon Muscadet can be, it had no "attack." The texture is part of what made it so memorable, a gentle pillow that spread evenly through the mouth and nose. We drank this wine with locally farmed oysters and it was one of those moments when you understand why certain things become cliché.

5 comments:

personalwinebuyer.com said...

Love the post and the wines mentioned. I also think Ollivier's Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Trois is worth seeking out as well.

Victoria said...

What a great post.

I can smell the sea.

MichaelB said...

Mmmm. Had Granite de Clisson '05 last week with great shellfish in Cornwall here in England. Heaven.

Anonymous said...

Either oyster farmers, Muscadet producers, or the Martha's Vineyard Tourist Board should be paying you for posts like this. Maybe all three.

Do Bianchi said...

Like Proust's madeleine... there is a much deeper meaning here... it must be intuited not spoken... and it means a great deal... great post man... hoping to get to drink wine with you again soon...