The Early Mountain Vineyards Third Annual Oyster Festival is tomorrow, and that got us thinking: Yum, wine and oysters. (Actually, those thoughts are never very far from our minds.) So, to give us all a little taste of the Virginia festivities about to commence, we asked Early Mountain’s winemaker Steve Monson to pair up some Virginia wine with the bivalves, and he was happy to oblige.
It’s terroir with merrior—a term coined by Chef Mike Lata to describe the uniqueness of seafood from different waters—and that makes for one happy Friday.
Church Creek Chardonnay – Steel Fermented
Shooting Point Oyster Company’s Nassawadox Salt / Nassawadox Salts on the half shell from Shooting Point Oyster Company are the quintessential Chesapeake Bay oyster. Steel fermented Church Creek Chardonnay from Chatham Vineyards reflects the salinity of the oyster with its redolent minerality. An unadorned oyster deserves an unadorned wine.
Early Mountain Vineyards, Pinot Gris
Rappahannock River Oyster Company’s Rappahannock River Oyster / The Rappahannock River oyster displays a rich buttery texture with a hint of salinity that is accentuated by the crispy saltiness of fried batter. Pair with Early Mountain’s Pinot Gris, which offers apple aromas and bright acidity.
Rappahannock River Oyster Company’s Olde Salt Oyster / The winemaking family at Rockgarden Cellars, the Vroomans, blend the white juice of Pinot Noir and Vidal to make a bright, vibrant wine with a spritz. The Voyage Vert acts like a squeeze of lemon for the Ole Salt. The sweetness of the oyster is accentuated, while the spritz of the wine cleanses the palate.
Blanc de Chardonnay
Shooting Point Oyster Company’s Shooting Point Salt / Two brines make a right when topping oysters with roe. Paddlefish roe or Osetra Caviar, whichever your preference and budget, makes for a wonderful pairing with oysters when sparkling wine is involved. Blanc de Blanc or Chardonnay based sparklers have a finesse that suits the delicacy of the oyster, and the sparkle echoes the experience of the salty burst of flavor provided by the roe. Claude Thibaut, a sixth generation Champenois, makes the finest Blanc de Blancs in the Old Dominion.
Editor’s Note: Steve Monson earned his master’s from the University of Missouri, where he was in charge of the creation and operation of the school’s experimental winery. Upon graduation, Steve worked as an intern at a small, premium Bordeaux blend producer just outside Portland, Oregon and now enjoys working in a more familiar climate in Virginia, at Early Mountain Vineyards.