I have been on many tasting panels, but there's nothing quite like the full-sensory thrill of being a judge for the Oyster Wine competition, the search for the most oyster-complementary wines. It might be the ultimate food-wine pairing.
This enjoyable event, now in its 19th year, occurred last week at Anthony’s on Shilshole, and winners were announced Monday morning. Event organizer Jon Rowley instructed judges to “put themselves in Papa's shoes”— to think like Ernest Hemingway about the way the wine washes away the metallic quality of the oyster and leaves only the taste of the sea, and to search for the bliss factor created when the briny bivalve and the bright, brilliant wines meet in the mouth. Rowley read a passage from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast as platters of beautiful Kumamotos from Taylor Shellfish were placed in front of us, along with 20 wines. It was wonderful, heady stuff.
Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times dining critic and regular Oyster Wine Competition judge, tweeted last week that listening to Rowley talk oysters was like taking batting practice with Ted Williams. Except that instead of running the bases, there are oysters. Lots of oysters.
In Seattle, on the kind of brilliant afternoon that makes us feel so incredibly lucky to live here, I hated to finish filling in my scorecard. I didn’t want it to end. I wish there was an oyster wine tasting every week. Come to think of it, there could be.
Here are this year’s winners:
**Cedargreen Cellars 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (WA)
**Chateau Ste. Michele 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (WA)
**Dry Creek 2012 Dry Chenin Blanc (CA)
**Geyser Peak 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
**Kunde 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
Long Meadow Ranch 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
*Three Pears 2012 Pinot Grigio (CA)
Trefethen 2012 Dry Riesling (CA)
Vinoce 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
*Willamette Valley 2011 Pinot Grigio (OR)
**Multiple Prior Oyster Wine Awards
*Prior Oyster Wine Award Winner