Cold waters through January and February on the East Coast mean an abundance shellfish and other seafood in March: these wintry white wines are unexpected perfect pairings.
If you’re a seafood person (we are!), and you haven’t taken advantage yet of the cold Atlantic’s best time of year for shellfish and other seafood, now is the time. In late winter, we meditate happily on oysters, clams, diver scallops and uni in this part of the country—here we also have to mention skate, one of the Northeast’s most sustainable fish options. The skate’s flaky ‘wings’ turn into a beautiful French-style dish if you roast or pan-fry it in a brown butter sauce with parsley and capers! What we wish more people knew in this season, with these kinds of foods that are chilly and rich all at once, is the range and diversity of white wines that can accompany them. The white wines we highlight here, for pairing with silky scallop crudo or Oysters Rockefeller are just like the dishes we love this time of year: textural and layered, but retaining tension through their bracing acidity: just like the salty, cold waters of the Atlantic.
Stein Riesling 'Blauschiefer' Trocken 2020
We love Ulli Stein's dry Riesling called 'Blauschiefer,' or 'blue slate,' because of its purity: fresh, driven with minerality, replete with pretty flowers and herbs and rocks, with no BS, no fancy styling. It's just one of the most delicious dry white wines you can get for the money, and so much more complex than the Sauvignon Blanc and Sancerre competitors you'll often find at this price. Drink Blue Slate and be vivified.
Margins Carmel Valley Chenin Blanc 2020
Megan Bell's wines are beautiful and unassuming: underrepresented grapes and places, but they're not wacky; they're honest and transparent. This wine comes from the Massa Vineyard in Carmel Valley, overlooking the rugged Cachagua ('Hidden Waters') region at 1200-1500 feet in elevation. It's a vineyard site that was planted in 1968 and has been organic since the '90s; the scant three acres of Chenin Blanc there, in Bell's hands, give a wine with notes of tart pineapple, white florals, and soft peach—it's a joy.
Xydakis Assyrtiko 2018
Xydakis Microwinery is a garage winery on the island Mykonos, operated by dentist Giorgis Xydakis. Xydakis is executing his vision of bringing old and obscure Cycladic varieties to light, grown organically in his 'garden,' or wildly in uncultivated and abandoned vineyards on Mykonos and other Cycladic islands. Vinification is always natural. His wines have a cult following in Greece and are some of the rarest in the country — this Assyrtiko is both plump, salty, lively, and broad all at once... It's hard for us to compare it with other wines, but it is maritime, noble, stirring; it'll be one of the best white wines you have all year.
Guillaume Michaut Chablis 1er Cru 'Beauroy' 2018
Guillaume Michaut's domaine, called 47ºN 3ºE, is named for the location of the winery in the village of Beines, largely because Michaut didn't want to name his young winery after himself. His humility shows in this Chablis: from a fancy primer cru vineyard site, with some weight and roundness to the wine, but also displaying friendly fruit and the salinity for which the region is noted. Affable, pleasurable Chablis, and a lot less expensive than those of more famous growers nearby.