Island Creek Oyster Bar - Merroir and Terroir

Merroir and Terroir is a class I've been meaning to take for quite a while. Originally, it was offered through Formaggio Kitchen, but my schedule never seemed to work out, and the one time it did, I got sick right before the class and couldn't go. When I saw it was being offered by Island Creek Oyster Bar, I immediately signed up, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the class is now in it's 2.0 version, with more information added about oyster farming. So glad I finally got to go!

Chris Sherman, the President of Island Creek Oysters, and Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli, the General Manager of Island Creek Oyster Bar, were on hand to teach us everything they could about oyster farming and wine pairings. There was even some swag to be had- we all walked away with a new Island Creek Oyster Bar oyster knife.

The first pairing wound up being my favorite of the entire afternoon. We started with the original Island Creek oysters, grown in Duxbury, MA, by Skip Bennett. Island Creek oysters are from the species Crassostrea Virginica, and they were paired with 2012 Claude Riffault 'Les Chesseignes' from Sancerre, France.

Row 34 was the next oyster to try. Another version of the species Crassostrea Virginica, Row 34 oysters are also produced in Duxbury, MA, by Skip Bennett. Because these oysters are farmed differently, spending their entire lifespans near the bottom of the bay, they have a different flavor profile and the shells have a different appearance. The Row 34 oysters, named after their location in the bay, were paired with 2012 Domaine Vacheron, a Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre, France.

Reaching the half-way point, we tried the Northern Cross oyster, an excellent oyster farmed in Smith Island, VA, by Tim Rapine. Another Crassostrea Virginica oyster, the Northern Cross is raised on trays, which gives it a distinct flavor. It was paired with 2012 Margerum 'Sybarite', a Sauvignon Blanc from Santa Barbara, CA.

Another amazing pairing was up next - Hama Hama oysters and 2012 Weininger Wein Grüner Veltliner from Austria. Austrian wines tend to go over very well with me, and this one was no different; it tasted delicious and fresh, and paired well with the oysters. This time, we left the Virginicas behind, and tried the species Crassostrea Gigas. These Hama Hamas were raised in Lillywaup, WA, by Adam and Lissa James, and they were beach finished, which is a style of oyster farming that I had not heard of previously.

Our last oyster pairing began with an awesome wine, 2011 Schloss Gobelsburg 'Lamm', a Grüner Veltliner from Osterreich, Austria. This was paired with another Crassostrea Gigas, the Blue Pool oyster, grown in Lillywaup, WA, by Adam and Lissa James. This oyster was grown using the 'Bonsai' method, which allows the surf to tumble the shell, which prunes new shell growth. Definitely a great class, and one I would take again!


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