Sunday, November 11, 2007

Scallops love Muscadet

Les Vergers
Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Sur Lie
France (Loire Valley)

Yesterday, my mom, my sister and I were roaming around town, enjoying the sunny afternoon and looking forward to having uncle Ken over for dinner. As usual, most of our activities for the day revolved around food. In the car, on our way to Granville Island – after a visit to Monde Chocolat and Les Amis du Fromage – we concluded our half hour discussion of what we should cook for dinner, deciding finally on scallops. Specifically, the scallops we made in the summer for WeDine, sauteed with chicory and apples. Yum, yum. Once at Liberty Wines on Granville Island, I described this dish to the nice man who asked if I wanted help, and he brought me straight over to French section and pronounced "Muscadet Sur Lie." His description of its virtues won me over right away: apparently this palette-cleansing wine had the ability to make each bite of our perfect scallops taste as amazing as the very first bite.

Well, he was right. The Muscadet was great with the meal – light, crisp and refreshing, but neutral enough to let the flavours of the food shine. Very dry and low in acidity, it was a bit lacklustre when tasted on its own after the meal.

Something interesting... Liberty offered two levels of this wine – an entry-level one (which I chose) aged sur lie for six months, and a premium-level one aged sur lie for nine months. My helper said that the nine-month one would just "do its (palette-cleansing) job a little bit better."

Here's what wikipedia has to say about sur lie aging:

Sur lie literally translates from the French as 'on lees', [lees being the yeasty residue remaining in the cask after fermentation]. 'Sur lie' wines are bottled directly from the lees without racking (a process for filtering the wine), giving an added freshness and creaminess to the wine.

Oz Clarke says that aging the muscadet sur lie "gives it a bit of life and depth and makes all the difference between interesting neutrality and boring neutrality."

So now I know I'm a fan of interesting neutrality – I'd buy this wine again, next time I'm cooking up some rich seafood.

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