I had the pleasure of dining at lunch this week with Jon Rowley, of Jon Rowley & Associates. He is he the Mastermind behind this wonderful Northwest Event created 17 years ago. Jon’s career has shaped the seafood industry as we know it. The goal for this competition – Find the 10 Best Wines that pair with West Coast Oysters.
Taylor Shellfish Farms of Shelton, the fifth generation family owned company, sponsors the event. As Jon calls it – The popular annual dating service for Oysters and West Coast Wines!! At lunch, he told me that the judges love this event, and after tasting Oysters and Wine all day…they just want to go enjoy more Oysters and Wine!! A tough job, but someone has to answer the call!! There are some rules for the judges, like smelling and really “tasting” the oyster by “chewing” it well to fully experience it in all parts of the palate. One of the most important factors of judging – to not smell the wine prior to tasting the oyster, as this could form an impression of the wine before experiencing the oyster. And no talking!!! Focus is required for such an important assignment. Sounds very intense…but how could this be unpleasant?? Focus on tasting the most fabulous, fresh oysters and beautiful wine parings? I believe, even I could stay quiet for that job!
Preliminary Judging takes place at Anthony’s Homeport at Shilshole Bay in Seattle, March 29th- April 4th. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to stand on the sidelines and witness some of the Judging. Really an honor to be invited. There will be Five Veteran Judges, who will select 20 wines, and the Final Judgings to to be held April 26th at Water Grill in Los Angeles, April 27th at Sutros at the Cliff House in San Francisco and wrapping up back at Anthony’s Homeport, on Shilshole April 28th, with a panel of 12 judges in each venue. The winners are determined by combining the scores from all three cities to select the top 10!
The coveted “Oyster Award” winners will be announced on May 1st. Winners enjoy immediate sales results. The restaurant response is rewarding and Wineries can quickly sell out of their winning vintage.
The deadline for entries is this Monday, March 28th at 6 PM!!! Call to wineries – you can download entry rules and forms at www.oysterwine.com
A quote Jon shared with me – “As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and make plans” – A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
How lucky we are in the Northwest to have such an abundance of fresh shellfish, some of the best in the world, grown by people who have a vision for the environment and sustainability – Thank You Taylor Shellfish! Thank You, for delicious wines, blended by so many talented Vintners – too many to name, and for individuals like Jon who have passion to keep bringing awareness and new ideas to the culinary world, like this competition on it’s 17th year.
It has been a pleasure learning about it, I’m excited to cover it, and I look forward to following up to let you all know who the winners are for Oyster Wine 2011!!
*photo by Jon Rowley