When life gives you oysters, break out the bubbles. Or crack open the Muscadet. That is at least the conventional wisdom. But last Thursday, life (well, The Remedy to be precise) gave me a stunning skin contact Catarratto from Sicily, followed seconds later by a large plate of my favourite molluscs. Was this going to work?
Orange wine and oysters didn’t seem like obvious bedfellows, but actually it was perfect. The Catarratto brought out both the creaminess and the saline character of the oysters, holding its own all the while. The producer? Nino Barraco, a West Sicilian producer with a “back to the roots” ethic.
Catarratto doesn’t have the greatest reputation in Sicily, being a bit of a workhorse grape in most parts of the island. Young, fresh fruity fare is normally about as good as it gets. Barraco adds a twist, first by doing almost nothing to get in the way (no cultured yeasts, no temperature control, no filtration, next to no sulphur), second by leaving the grapes to macerate on the skins for a few days.
The result is an attention grabbing wine with intense, zesty dried apricot and herbs. The style is very accessible, with an easy texture, citrussy freshness and generous fruit. Barraco’s wines have landed in my glass on many occasions in the last couple of years – especially the Grillo, which is made in a similar way. But this “orange” Catarratto is more focused, with more purity and drive than either the Grillo or the Zibbibo (both excellent wines in their own right).
A bit more about the Remedy – not only are their Papillon No. 4 oysters from Marennes D’Oléron worth the trip alone, they also have what is definitely London’s best orange wines list.
The rest of the list is equally interesting and varied. Even more importantly, it’s a friendly, convivial place just far enough from London’s west end to avoid being unpleasantly hectic.