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Wondering what to quaff with lobster? Go beyond chardonnay

Venture to Tuscany: the ancient hamlet and winery of San Felice in Tuscany (Photograph supplied)

I feel quite certain that my first thought when our lobster season opens is the same as most of us have, and it is of a fine chardonnay, whether it be burgundy or New World.

This year why not be adventuresome?

With this in mind let’s start with a 100 per cent sangiovese from Tuscany as I posit that the fresh acidity and medium tannins of this classic Italian will allow us to match 2019 San Felice Chianti Classico Reserva Il Grigio with our renowned crustacean. At 94/100 from James Suckling, it is extremely well made.

He writes: “Fairly complex, but still bright, with spiced red plums and cherries, bark, leather and a hint of mushroom savouriness. Quite integrated and silky with a medium to full body, rounded by firm but velvety tannins. Long, yet subtle and fruit-expressive.” $29.90 (Stock #8975).

Bermuda loving Roberto and Maia Guldener, who founded Terrabianca (they have now sold it) would tell us when they were our house guests that their Campaccio was a fine match for our local seafood.

Today we have 2019 Arillo in Terrabianca Campaccio Toscana Rosso, a Super Tuscan blend that garners the following comments from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: "A blend of 70 per cent sangiovese, 20 per cent cabernet sauvignon and 10 per cent merlot, the Arillo in Terrabianca 2019 Campaccio shows elegant restraint with hints of cinnamon and sweet oak that frame a core of dark fruit.

“If you remember the old Campaccio, you will recognise the wine's black label and the fonts used in the design. Stylistically speaking however, this wine has evolved over the years to show a much more tapered and graceful approach today. Pretty mineral notes create a final signature.” $38.75 (Stock #9046).

Champagne is a no-brainer as it goes with virtually every dish you can imagine and one of the finest for our marriage of food and wine would be 2017 Deutz Amour de Deutz Blanc de Blanc Champagne. I know that you know that I am being sneaky here, as the laws of champagne require a blanc de blanc to be made entirely from chardonnay grapes.

Critic James Suckling says, “What a wonderfully enticing nose that marries white flower aromas with ripe pear and just a touch of toasted baguette. Stunning elegance on the beautifully proportioned palate, the racy and mineral acidity driving the graceful and precise finish off into the distance. Just a touch of ginger there. Very fine mousse. 95/100.” $98 (Stock #7840).

Now we drive down to Bordeaux to visit Jean Luc Thunevin and his wife Murielle Andraud, the couple that turned the wine world topsy turvy with their 1991 Chateau Valandraud in St Emilion.

This tiny production red offering gave us the term “garage” wine, or a “garagiste” wine maker, and they were the first of what has now become quite a few. Made in their garage, it rivalled the historic greats of the region in quality.

Just take a sip of 2018 Virginie de Valandraud Blanc and you will understand why I cannot relate to the fact that white bordeaux is not more asked for. Jean Luc and Murielle have made a white since 2000 and this one honours their daughter in name.

Fifty per cent is semillon, 40 per cent sauvignon blanc and 10 per cent sauvignon gris. Lobster plus yuzo citrus, lemon grass and white orchids, this comes with a guarantee to wow. $39 (Stock #9624).

One of the very first wineries in Napa Valley, back in the late 1800s, was Stags’ Leap Winery and their 2019 Stags’ Leap Winery Viognier is described this way by the winery: “Vibrant, aromatic and lively, showcasing the variety’s classic stone fruit characters alongside a fragrant floral bouquet.

“The wine is bright with refreshing acidity that is crisp with nuances of citrus blossom, white peach, Asian pear and lychee, alongside hints of key lime, Meyer lemon and honeysuckle.

“Hints of flinty minerality lead to a lovely depth and rich creaminess of the texture. This viognier has incredible complexity, finishing soft and round with an elegant, delicately spiced floral note.

“Perfect for warm weather al fresco dining occasions, allowing you to pair with lighter fare and spicy exotic dishes, creating a perfect accompaniment to any occasion.”

You can see that we have that lemon and creaminess again. The Wine Enthusiast gives it 93/100 and comments: “Honeycomb and slate greet the nose first in this dry, crisp and lengthy white wine, moderate in viscosity and ripeness. Lovely notes of apricot follow around a tease of honeysuckle and white flower. It’s impressive through the focused finish.” $55.40 (Stock #6332).

Thank you for being patient, and we will now move on to a chardonnay with 2020 Sbragia Russian River Valley Chardonnay. You squeeze a lemon on your lobster, and this wine gives you acidity and citrus.

You dip in melted butter, and Ed Sbragia gives us a creamy richness from 100 per cent malolactic fermentation – a natural process where bacteria convert malic acid (green apples) into lactic acid (milk or butter). Seashell minerality blends in with Bosc pear and delicate herbs. $35(Stock #6337).

Ed is one of the finest and most talented winemakers that I have ever met, and all of his wines are a very safe bet. Conversations with him have taught me much.

He headed up the wine production at Beringer for 25 years and he now pursues his dream with his family and son Adam at their winery situated at the very top end of Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma.

It is a rewarding experience to step off the beaten path from time to time and I do hope that if you do so the pairings that I have suggested work well for you.

• This column is a paid-for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). A selection of its wines, beers and spirits is available online at www.wineonline.bm

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Published September 08, 2023 at 7:44 am (Updated September 08, 2023 at 6:58 am)

Wondering what to quaff with lobster? Go beyond chardonnay

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