This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20081219.php.
Fine seafood wine
Let's turn to Australia today for a quick taste of an appealing white blend of Rhone-style varieties that comes together in a wine that pairs exceptionally well with seafood in general and shellfish in particular.
A blend of 58 percent Viognier and 42 percent Marsanne grown mostly in South Australia's McLaren Vale with a splash of wine from the Adelaide Hills, "The Hermit Crab" draws its name, d'Arenberg says, from the ancient sea life found in fossil form in the limestone soil that lies beneath its vineyards.
"The close proximity of the vineyards to the Gulf St. Vincent induces a beneficial cooling effect on the grapes," reports the winery Website. "Many of McLaren Vale’s vineyards are on free-draining soils underlain with limestone, formed by the calcareous remains of the local marine fauna.
"One such creature was the Hermit Crab, a reclusive little crustacean that to this day inhabits the cast-off shells of others."
The Website notes that this aromatic white is friendly to vegetarian and vegan fare. I'll go in the direction that the wine name inspires: Shellfish and The Hermit Crab make a mighty fine combination for me. You'll find my tasting notes below.
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d'Arenberg 2007 "The Hermit Crab" Adelaide Viognier Marsanne ($16.99)
Very pale straw color, pours up with a ring of bubbles around the edge. Melons and subtle white-flower notes on the nose, very appealing. Rich-tetured, nearly dry and firmly acidic; white fruit and a pleasant hint of peach-pit bitterness in the finish. A blend of 58% Viognier, 42% Marsanne at a rational 13.5% alcohol. U.S. importer: Old Bridge Cellars, Napa, Calif. (Dec. 16, 2008)
FOOD MATCH: It's very well suited indeed with shellfish, as the name implies. I paired it with sea scallops seared in butter and olive oil with garlic and finished with clam juice, tossed with conchiglie pasta.
VALUE: A decent value at this mid-teens price, but it's well worth shopping around, as U.S. prices for the 2007, per Wine-Searcher.com, range from $11 to $18.
WHEN TO DRINK: I'd enjoy it while it's young and fresh, although the sturdy modern screw cap should assure reasonable shelf life under decent storage conditions.
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