kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits, travel & lifestyle writer / wine educator


Spies Like Us

oyster wine

Last year I had the pleasure of serving as a judge for the annual "wines with oysters" competition at DC's Old Ebbitt Grill. An esteemed panel of local celebrities (not sure how I slipped through...) taste through 20 wines to determine which was the most sublime match with oysters (not a bad gig at all..) The majority of the wines are usually Sauvignon Blanc-based: there were lots of NZ SB, some Sancerre, a few from CA, and then some other crisp whites like Chablis (I recall a sparkling wine or two...) These wines work for the same reason that you squirt a lemon wedge of raw oysters--their vibrant acidity wakes up your taste buds, and the minerality matches that found in the bivalves.

The winery who wins gets bragging rights--and also recognition at the Oyster Riot the following week (a crazy, fun, racous tasting event that always sells out immediately after tickets go on sale. We had a blast trying so many different varieties of oysters with the wine contenders, and listening to some Cajun music. Good times.)

I was thrilled to find out that this year's Gold Medal winner was my favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: Spy Valley. Though this grape in this region is known for its consistency year after year, I always find Spy Valley even a cut about the rest--complex, mineral-driven as well as herbeceous and citrusy. Just. plain.mouthwatering. Here is the list of top Ebbit winners this year:

2009 GOLD MEDAL WINNERS   Grand Champion Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand   First Runner-Up The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand

Second Runner-Up Fantail Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand

If you didn't already get your tickets to the Oyster Riot--you're out of luck. But to pique your interest for next year's riot (which will be the SIXTEENTH annual event), know that this year's ticket price of $126.50 gets you unlimited oysters, wines, beer and other appys. One thousand participants go through 50,000 shucked oysters, representing 24 varieties from both coasts.