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By Chuck Hill

Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

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Wines for Oysters
and Mussels

Published July & Aug 2015

Pinot Noir & Salmon
A 4-Part Series
Published June & July 2015

Red Rhone Varietals
A 4-Part Series
Published Apr & May 2015

50 Shades of Chardonnay
A 4-Part Series
Published Mar & Apr 2015

Italian Varietals
Come to America

A 4-Part Series
Published Jan & Feb 2015

Cabernet Sauvignon
& Blends

A 4-Part Series
Published Nov & Dec 2014

Merlot and Malbec
A 3-Part Series
Published Oct & Nov 2014


Index to Archived
Wines of the Week
...Earlier Columns


Chuck's Wine Reviews
of other Northwest Wines

Organized by varietal


Book Reviews
















































Last Week's Reviews
Published August 15, 2015

Wines for Oysters and Mussels, Part 4
Part Four of a Four-Part Series  (See Part 1)  (See Part 2)  (Part 3)
By Chuck Hill

By now, you have decided if you are an oyster lover or if you prefer steamed mussels – maybe you like both!  There are hundreds of great white wines to enjoy with these “fruits de mer” offering flavors from dry, tart and herbal to fresh, fruity and juicy.  It is fun to have more than one varietal open to taste with the various dishes.  I would highly recommend visiting one of Taylor Shellfish Farm’s oyster bars in Seattle to enjoy expertly prepared shellfish with a wide selection of wines by the glass:  (Wines by the glass are listed under each location.)

Sauvignon Blanc

Three Rivers Winery
2013 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley AVA

Three Rivers is the only winery in Walla Walla that has a three-hole golf course adjacent to the winery! Customers are invited to hit the links before or after tasting.  Enjoy their refreshing Sauvignon Blanc with both oysters and mussels for its aromas and flavors of lemony citrus, pear, melon and baking spice.

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards
2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Umpqua Valley AVA

This delicious Sauvignon Blanc offers racy acidity and flavors of gooseberry and grape-fruity citrus in the New Zealand style.  It is the perfect foil for half-shell oysters with aromas of citrus and baking spice leading you to sip, slurp and enjoy!

Pepper Bridge Winery
2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Walla Walla Valley AVA

This wine presents the conundrum of which is more important, the oyster or the oyster wine?  It is rich and complex with a cornucopia of tropical fruits caressing a core of citrus and gooseberry.  It draws you back from appreciating the oyster to contemplate the fine nuances of mineral, fruit and refreshing mouthfeel.

Willow Crest Wine Estates
2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Yakima Valley AVA

Willow Crest was founded by grape grower David Minick in 1995, utilizing select blocks of fruit from his family vineyard north of Prosser, Washington.  Willow Crest initially focused on aromatic white varieties but now includes reds as well.  This oyster-friendly Sauvignon Blanc offers aromas and flavors of sweet hay, citrus, herbs and notes of tropical fruits and melon.

Amelia Wynn
2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Yakima Valley AVA

Winemaker/owner Paul Bianchi has been crafting wines at his Bainbridge Island winery since 1998.  Named in celebration of Paul’s twin fraternal grandchildren, the winery crafts wines from a wide variety of Bordeaux, Rhone and Northern Italian grape varietals.  His Yakima Valley Sauvignon Blanc is a perennial favorite, offering racy grapefruit, melon, dried herbs and hints of baking spice.

Chenin Blanc

Pacific Rim
2013 Chenin Blanc
Yakima Valley AVA

Grapes for this wine came from the venerable Hahn Hill Vineyard, planted in 1968, making it one of the oldest vineyards in Washington State.  Fermentation and aging take place in stainless steel to preserve the freshness of the Chenin Blanc fruit.  Look for aromas and flavors of key lime, white peach, floral perfume and melon.


Waitsburg Cellars
2014 Chenieres, The Aromatics
Yakima Valley AVA

Wine writer Paul Gregutt created his Waitsburg Cellars brand utilizing fruit from some of the oldest vineyard sites in Washington to craft unique and flavorful food wines.  Grapes from Upland and Roza Hills Vineyards were used for this seafood-friendly Chenin Blanc (100%) offering a light pear and vanilla nose, with rich flavors of herbs and spice and crisp acidity.


Foundry Vineyards
2013 Chardonnay
Columbia Gorge AVA

Coming from the art-centric community of Camano Island, I truly appreciate the association between art and wine.  Foundry Vineyards owners Mark and Patty Anderson have brought this association full circle with the combination of a fine arts gallery, sculpture garden and tasting room.  Enjoy the winery’s delicious Chardonnay, crafted with the addition of 4% Maria Gomes (a Portuguese white variety added for unique acidity).  Look for aromas and flavors of citrus, orchard blossom and earthy mineral that pair superbly with both oysters and mussels.

Patit Creek
2013 Chardonnay
Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley AVA

Ed Dudley - previously a vice president at Verizon – acquired Patit Creek Cellars in 2007 and in 2008 moved the winery from Dayton to its present location in the Walla Walla airport winery district.  The winery also has a tasting room in Woodinville and one in Spokane.  This Chardonnay from the Ancient Lakes AVA offers aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, tangy citrus and hints of vanilla and toasty oak. 

Other Varietals

Patterson Cellars
2013 Melange Blanc
Columbia Valley AVA

John Patterson continues to craft superb food-wine blends at his Woodinville winery. This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Marsanne and Roussanne and shows nice aromas of lemon, apple and dusty mineral with notes of floral perfume and caramel.  The palate is crisp with citrus and stone fruits – pairs nicely with mussels.

Three Rivers Winery
2014 Riesling
Columbia Valley AVA

Winemaker Holly Turner crafts this refreshing Riesling from grapes grown at Bacchus Vineyard north of Pasco, Washington.  Cool fermentation preserved fruitiness, and 2.3% residual sugar balances the crisp acidity of the wine.  Look for aromas and flavors of peach, nectarine, orchard blossom and baking spice.

Wines from other areas

Domaine Chatelain
2013 Pouilly Fume
Pouilly sur Loire, France

This domaine was founded in 1630, and the 12th generation still works the soil of Pouilly sur Loire to craft the iconic wines of the region.  This quintessential oyster and mussel wine offers aromas of flinty mineral over a base of lime zest and lemon, which follow to the palate – a masterpiece of crisp complexity and white-wine enjoyment.

Madrigal Family Winery
2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Napa Valley AVA

The Madrigal family has grown wine grapes in the Napa Valley since the 1930s.  Third generation family member Chris Madrigal is in charge now and works with famed California winemaker Ed Sbragia to craft the special Madrigal Family bottlings.  This oyster-friendly Sauvignon Blanc offers aromas and flavors of ripe pear, juicy-fruit, baking spice and tangy citrus.

2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, New Zealand

This wine has everything we look for in a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc: bright aromatics of gooseberry, lemon and herbs leading to a crisp palate with complex citrus flavors and refreshing acidity.  The winery suggests pairing with Lemon and Prawn Risotto.  I like it with half-shell oysters.  Your choice.

Bodega del Fin de Mundo
2013 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon

Winemaker Marcelo Miras crafts this flavorful white wine from grapes grown in the Patagonia region of Argentina – del Fin de Mundo (end of the earth).  Aromas and flavors of herbs and grass dance with citrus and mineral with just a hint of Semillon fruitiness on the palate.  The wine is a refreshing complement to both half-shell oysters and steamed mussels.

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All rights reserved.  Last revised: 08/28/2015