Every year Taylor Shellfish sponsors the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, run by my friend Jon Rowley. This contest aims to find the best West Coast wines to pair with oysters. I first really got into oysters at a dinner hosted by Jon that served the winners of that year's competition with freshly harvested oysters. That night changed my life.
Anyway, here are this year's winners:
- Brassfield Estate Winery 05 Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
- Dry Creek Vineyard 05 Sonoma County Fume Blanc (CA)
- **Dry Creek Vineyard 06 Dry Chenin Blanc (CA)
- **Geyser Peak Winery 06 Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
- Hall 06 Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
- **Kenwood Vineyards 06 Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
- *King Estate Winery 05 Signature Pinot Gris (OR)
- *Martin & Weyrich Winery 06 Unwooded Chardonnay (CA)
- Sweet Cheeks Winery 06 Pinot Gris (OR)
- *Willamette Valley Vineyards 06 Pinot Gris (OR)
*Prior "Oyster Award" Winner
**Multiple prior "Oyster Awards"
Typically crisp whites with maybe a little mineral taste pair well; you can see a lot of chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, and pinot gris on the list. The one chardonnay is unwooded; big oaky chardonnays are too much for oysters. Occasionally, you'll see an pinot noir on the list, but not this year. The other nice thing about the varietals that pair well with oysters is that they're typically pretty cheap. I haven't priced these wines, but previous winners have been $10-15/bottle. It's rare to find wines that win any contest for anything in that range.
So, if you can't have whisky with oysters, then pick one of these wines. Mmm...
(Here's another good profile of Jon, in case you're interested. He's quite a character and big in the Seattle food scene. He's also the guy behind the Copper River Salmon craze.)