Muscadet is a light white wine from France traditionally paired with oysters. And I love oysters, but I really don't like shucking them myself. I know a few places around town where I can have dozens of Ameripure oysters for next to nothing, and while I like the restaurant standard oyster, I really miss traveling to other cities where I could try a dozen different east coast or west coast bivalves depending on what was in season. Tiny salty ones paired with a grapefruit granita or big buttery ones served with mignonette sauce... Anyway, I chose to buck tradition and regions and serve the wine with pasta and rapini.
2010 Domaine de la Tourmaline Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie
Made by Gadais Père & Fils
Melon de Bourgogne
$14, 12% abv.
This is distributed in the US by Cognac One, known to me as the provider of the various interesting wines of Xavier Flouret that I've reviewed over the years. Light floral nose with a touch of lemony acidity and a great mineral tone. Overall mild body and a slight finish. I haven't had many restrained French whites recently and this was a pure delight to try. While it would work great with oysters or other fresh shellfish, I defend my choice to pair it with the following dish.
Speaking of minerals, geology fans will enjoy the fact that the name includes the semi-precious stone tourmaline and that the grapes grew in soil full of mica gneiss, a type of metamorphic rock.
Yes, when taking a walk, I pick up odd rocks and have a bit of training in the subject.
For the pasta dish, I started with olive oil and diced shallots and garlic, followed by red bell pepper and a big dollop of tomato paste. I added chicken stock and white wine, and after reduction, I introduced chopped rapini to let the leaves wilt and the stalks and blossoms to soften. At the last minute I introduced sliced salsiccia, sweet Italian sausage that I'd previously simmered then browned. A dash of dried pepper flakes, a little red wine vinegar, a few other touches of magic and a final toss of shredded Asiago cheese with the tongs, and we've got a good meal.
This was a very fun wine pairing, and although the Loire is not near the Mediterranean, I like mixing French/Italian/Spanish foods with French/Italian/Spanish wines. I do so in the tradition of Phoenician traders 3000 years ago. I'm guessing they didn't get too picky about matching the right grape to the right culinary tradition, and their Egyptian customers were probably even less discerning.
Folks, as you pop a cork and let fermented grape juice fall out of a bottle, never forget that you're experiencing history in a glass.
Note: This wine was received as a sample.