By Rick Riozza

The hot long dog days of summer are upon us and if there is any wine that can refresh—no news here—it’s the beloved Sauvignon blanc.

Add to this info, our nation and parts of the world will be celebrating National Oyster Day this Friday, August 5th—and, I’ll go ahead and throw in the following Saturday and Sunday for good luck.

It seems that everyone has an opinion about oysters.  And generally it’s thumbs up or thumbs down; since we’re running with an up-beat article, let’s go with the former.  Rumor has it that there are a million ways to serve and eat oysters—so hey! there mustn’t be many “wrong” ways to meet, greet, and eat these mollusks: The briny bivalves can be eaten on the half shell, raw, smoked, boiled, baked, fried, roasted, stewed, canned, pickled, steamed or broiled.

I’m with those who pry them open immediately when spied out. Touch of lemon & tabasco, and the slurp, chomp & glide down the throat is afoot.

At times I’ve been so eager to munch down the mollusks, that even while snorkeling and coming upon a bed of oysters in the Kumamoto Bay, I’ve opened them underwater to get an early nibble.  It wreaks havoc, however, with your breathing technique—let’s just say, it takes practice.

On the other side of things, when it comes to Oysters Rockefeller—renowned for its rich butter sauce—the prep is elaborate.

Foodies love the story about the lothario Casanova, whose typical breakfast included 50 raw oysters.  Now whether or not they stoked his sexual stamina, who knows—but, a clutch of American and Italian researchers apparently cared enough to determine that oysters contained high amounts of rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones.  Andiamo!

Classically, the four best wine pairings with raw oysters, is Muscadet, Brut Champagne, Chablis, and Sauvignon blanc.  All are perfect crisp and clean whites that bring out the delicate mineral and briny complexities of the just-shucked oyster.  I’m certain the simmering summer season will last, so we’ll have time to cover these wines and their stimulating pairings.  For now, let’s go down-under—literally —for the oyster, and,  figuratively for some New Zealand Sauv blanc.

The ever thirst quenching Sauvignon blanc is always aromatic with notes of citrus, grapefruit, grass, lemons, and limes.  On the palate, however, added flavors of tropical fruits, green bell peppers, herbs, stone fruits, melons, and slate join in and are highlighted depending on the global locale of the vine.  The blended white Bordeaux is light bodied; California oft-times has a bit more heft with a bit of oak and/or rounded flavors; the New Zealand stuff falls in the middle with tangy and brisk flavors.

A couple of really easy N.Z. Sauv blanc recommendations, wines that I figuratively see fly out the door at markets, are the Nobilo—Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc and its big brother, Nobilo Icon Sauvignon BlancNope—it’s not Italian, but with a Croatian heritage of sorts, that is pronounced way down under as “NŏB-eh-Loe”(as in door-KNOB).

With 300 hundred years of winemaking tradition, the Croatian Nikola Nobilo came to New Zealand in 1936 to help begin a Sauv Blanc dynasty down-under.  In 1994, Nikola was awarded an Order of the British Empire medal for his contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

The Nobilo Sauv blanc is the blessing at only around $11.  Such a tasty quaff with aromas of tropical fruit, including pineapple, passion fruit, and guava. The busy bouquet also shows flinty minerality with herbal notes of nettles and freshly cut tomato plant.  The flavor profile is fresh, crisp and clean with zesty but ripe tropical fruits noted in the aroma with subtle hints of nettle.

When properly chilled, the wine has excellent presence and mouthfeel with a balanced acidity awaiting your shucked oyster.  Of course, enjoyable on its own as an apéro, and pairing well with any lighter seafood dish, lemon herb chicken, or summer salads.

Next is the sophisticated and delicious 2015 Nobilo Icon.  This is the stylish Sauv blanc that deserves a place on the dinner table.  It’s that type of wine that impresses everyone.  Both cleansing and flavorful, it’s a welcomed change from the dinner Chardonnay when serving light meats and pastas.  At around $20, it’s also the perfect wine to bring to dinner parties—and again, even though you’re known for your unassuming conduct, be ready for other guests giving you that ironic glance of jealousy.

Winemaker David Edmonds says of the 2015 Icon, “this is the pinnacle of Nobilo winemaking, it’s our flagship, and the best we can make from four special vineyards in Marlborough—the “Napa/Sonoma” of New Zealand  A rich, complex, full bodied wine with a striking bouquet of citrus and wet stone, with delicate floral notes. The palate displays fresh and lively flavors of lemon and white stone fruit, with juicy acidity, and minerality on the finish.”

When we received this wine, my family didn’t wait for the supper hour.  Moderate to lightly chilled, we poured it mid-day and were so happy for doing so!

To A Festive Oyster Weekend &Refreshing Cheers!

Rick is your somm-about town entertaining and conducting at wine events, restaurant venues and tastings. Contact winespectrum@aol.com

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