I suppose Bentleys oysters are about as iconic as you can get in London. I have been popping into Swallow Street for a dozen or half dozen since the early 1970’s during the season with an “r" in the month.
What a wonderful idea for Saint Valentines Day, there is nothing more romantic than to share a dozen (or two) if wonderfully fresh unopened oysters in the height of the season with the one you love.
May I respectfully suggest that the bottle of Piper Heidsieck Champagne be drunk as an aperitif whilst you are carefully opening or shucking the oysters. Wonderful that Bentley's have given a selection of different types and sources, which always makes for fascinating variety and interest. You can find Piper Heidsieck on Amazon currently for just £33, with no minimum order and free next day delivery if you have an Amazon prime account.
Now there are several wines which go superbly with oysters, many Loire wines like Pouilly Fumé or Sancerre, and good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
But there is one wine which I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending, and that is Sur Lie Muscadet. The fresh citrus works with or as well as lemon squeezed, and the creamy texture of the yeast contact 'sur lie' together with the aromas of a slightly salty Atlantic sea breeze makes Muscadet the perfect wine. Made from a slightly obscure grape call the Melon de Bourgogne, where it is grown is within close proximity of some of the best oyster beds, so no wonder it works so well.
There was a period when Muscadet was not made very well, was a bit over cropped and dilute, so became unfashionable. But in the last twenty years it has revived to become a superb wine region again.
I recommend from Majestic Wine at £8.99 for a mixed six, or £9.99 for a single bottle, the Domaine de Tourmaline “sur lie” Muscadet 2018.
It is a relatively modest 12% alcohol which means it doesn’t overpower the delicate subtle flavours of your oyster’s.
Try a glass of Piper Heidsieck first with the oysters, then try the Muscadet so you will see why I am so keen!
Christopher Burr, MW,
5th February 2021