Night Tide Oyster Soiree

Super fun to have been a part of both Night Tide Oyster Soirees this year up at Taylor Shellfish’s Samish Bay farm. I’ve attended these as a regular guest for the past couple years but it is way cool to be on the other side of the table pouring my Chenin for the attendees. With Daylight Savings, this time were able to enjoy some daylight on the beach and I was stoked to see the flip bags where the Shigokus are raised. Shigokus were the gateway mollusc that transformed me from a casual Kumamoto orderer to full blown oyster fiend.

I tasted Shigokus for the first time at Taste Washington probably in 2010? and I took a photo of the signage so I wouldn’t forget the Japanese name. My departed friend Jon Rowley claimed his favorite oyster was a perfect Totten Inlet Virginica and when he said this I thought he was nuts given how firm and crisp and deliciously cucumbery the Japanese oysters like Kusshi, Kumamoto and Shigoku are. I half expected him to say Olympias were his favorite just because of their local origins. But I’m converted now, those Virginicas I tasted last weekend were stunning, they’re bigger than what I’m used to, less simple flavor, plump textured and a little more generous all the way around. Virginicas are grown down in at Taylor’s farm in Shelton in the south sound.

My home school PhD in slurping and shucking reading list

https://www.oysterguide.com/

Rowan Jacobsen’s A Geography of Oysters

Rowan Jacobsen’s The Essential Oyster

https://www.oysterguide.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/chow_oyster_guide.pdf

Left to right, Kumos, Pacifics and Totten Inlet Virginicas

Left to right, Kumos, Pacifics and Totten Inlet Virginicas

Low tide exposed the flip bags that are used to raise the Shigokus. The bags keep the oysters suspended up out of the mud and the tidal flips promote a deep cup and a less brittle shell.

Low tide exposed the flip bags that are used to raise the Shigokus. The bags keep the oysters suspended up out of the mud and the tidal flips promote a deep cup and a less brittle shell.

The foreground is a demo of a “long line” Pacific oyster seed grown on old shells strung up on a line up above the muddy ocean floor. Behind you can see the tidal flip bags for the Shigokus.

The foreground is a demo of a “long line” Pacific oyster seed grown on old shells strung up on a line up above the muddy ocean floor. Behind you can see the tidal flip bags for the Shigokus.

Shigokus for days

Shigokus for days

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My friend Wren helped me pour my ORR Chenin blanc for the guests.

My friend Wren helped me pour my ORR Chenin blanc for the guests.

Destemming with Scissors

As you know I make a red wine for my brand, Orr Grenache. In 2016 and 2017, in an effort to keep it cuckoo, we destemmed about 100pounds of Syrah by hand with little dinky scissors. This ended up being co-fermented with 1.7 tons (3500 pounds) of Grenache which had been mechanically destemmed like normal. The resulting wines are out on the market now called Orr Columbia Valley Grenache (98% Grenache 2% Syrah).

The idea is that the berry is kept intact so it undergoes partial carbonic maceration - the plant-mediated enzymatic breakdown of glucose into carbon dioxide, ethanol and some unique high toned aroma compounds. The interior of the berry is sterile but after a while the grape skin is compromised by the ethanol of the must or it is physically damaged in the process of punching down and the contents of the berry are released into the fermentation where the traditional microbes do their thing. Despite my training in controlled experimental design, I had to go all or nothin here, and there is no non-hand-destemmed-with-scissors control to compare to in 2016 or 2017.

It’s a cool story and I like that Maggie Harrison from Antica Terra does this for one of her Lilian Syrahs and Jean-Francois Ganevat of the Jura, France supposedly does this for 100% of his J’en veux cuvee … but at the end of the day it is insane too much work. For what it’s worth, I moved away from this technique with the 2018 red wine - it was too hectic when the 18 Syrah was ready to pick and I didn’t have the bandwidth to spend all day long roping my dad and winemaking amigos into this ridiculous endeavor. Don’t worry I still kept it cuckoo in 2018, just in different ways. Stay tuned….

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Dad, Linn and Joel getting hand cramps

Dad, Linn and Joel getting hand cramps

That’s me, Lindsey, Joel and Kevin getting repetitive stress injuries

That’s me, Lindsey, Joel and Kevin getting repetitive stress injuries

No dads or winemakers were injured in this nutjob endeavor

No dads or winemakers were injured in this nutjob endeavor

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“Folding” the hand destemmed syrah into the hot mess of a machine destemmed grenache fermentation. Reminds me of that Schitt’s Creek episode “Fold in the cheese, David!”

“Folding” the hand destemmed syrah into the hot mess of a machine destemmed grenache fermentation. Reminds me of that Schitt’s Creek episode “Fold in the cheese, David!”