Sweet, salty oysters from the south coast are a heavenly match for Canberra wines

Oysters with Canberra district rieslings

Oysters go well with the Rieslings of the Canberra district. Photo: Included.

This year of wild weather has been a significant challenge for oyster growers, but the salty, creamy delicacies of the rock oysters from the South Coast will adorn many holiday tables, perhaps paired with a flint-like Canberra Riesling.

Gabrielle Cowley is Marketing Manager at Australia’s Oyster Coast Pty Ltd, which manages the Appellation Oysters brand. The hand-sorted oysters are chosen because of their convex shape, size and high meat-to-shell ratio and are always sold live rather than shucked.

About 60 farmers participate in the grading program and send their products to chefs like Neil Perry, whose new Double Bay restaurant, Margaret, has an oyster fridge that runs at just the right temperature for Sydney Rock oysters.

South Coast oysters

The south coast has extensive estuaries, perfect for oyster farming. Photo: Appellation Oysters.

“The appellation oysters are pushed to order so that the water in the estuary is still inside the shells,” says Gabrielle, explaining the merroir – the characteristic taste given to oysters by the water in which they grow. The concept is borrowed from the wine world’s understanding of terroir, the environmental factors that affect a harvest, including soil types, environment and agricultural practices.

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The rock oyster is found along just 1,500 kilometers of Australia’s east coast, including the fjords and waterways from Batemans Bay to Narooma. Experts say that although Pacific oysters will also to some extent exhibit merroir properties, stone oysters have a particularly strong ability to reflect growth conditions.

The south coast’s labyrinth of inlets and rivers emerging from pristine wilderness like Deua means these growth conditions are surprisingly different, depending on features, including tidal currents, whether the oysters grow close to the estuary or further up the river.

Rock oysters

Creamy taste comes from highly developed adductor muscles in stone oysters. Photo: Included.

“Wagonga oysters have higher salinity, for example, because there is a large tidal current there,” says Gabrielle. “They grow among extensive salt marshes, and this gives them a very marked umami character.

“Further up the river, the taste will not be so salty. Another component is the sweetness that comes from the adductor muscle. It is one of the reasons why people love stone oysters, because the adductor people get such a workout on the rocks, and it contributes to the taste. ”

Gabrielle has collaborated with Shaw Vineyard on Murrumbateman on some flavor combinations that bring out the best in appellation oysters. She suggests champagne and Spanish Albarino wines go well with oysters, but the premium Canberra district’s Riesling is a match made in heaven.


Oysters are paired with crisp clear flavors that elevate their creamy sweetness. Photo: Included.

“Canberra is home to the best Riesling in Australia, and the Shaw Vineyard character is quite sour and fertile, so it’s also great for a granita,” she says.

La Nina has created a challenging season for oyster growers, but access to estuaries up and down the coast, which is part of the appellation program, has ensured a good supply for the holiday season.

“There’s so much hard work, love and passion and a hell of a lot of worries about the weather going into growing and getting oysters on the market,” Gabrielle says.

β€œIt is a beautiful close collaboration with Mother Nature. We would love people to support NSW oysters because it takes a lot of hard work to get them on your table. ”

2 cucumbers, peeled and washed
1.2 head Shaw Wines Estate Riesling
2 tablespoons icing sugar
Juice of 2 limes
24 fresh shucked Appellation Rock Oysters
Rock salt. Cucumber peel. Fresh basil.

Sift the cucumber seeds in a blender and strain the seeds. Put riesling, sugar, lime juice and cucumber juice in an ovenproof dish. Place in the freezer for 3 hours and stir around every 30 minutes until the mixture is frozen and granular. Serve the oysters on a bed of rock salt on a large serving platter. Pour the granita over the oysters and garnish with the cucumber peel and fresh basil. Serve immediately.

2 shallots, finely chopped 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
24 fresh shucked Appellation Rock Oysters
Rock salt.

Put the shallots in a bowl with vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes to pull. Serve the oysters on a bed of rock salt on a large serving platter. Pour dressing over the oysters.

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin spice
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons orange juice
24 fresh shucked Appellation Rock Oysters
Rock salt. Spring onion curls. Orange peel. Sesame seeds.

Combine the soy sauce, the mirin spices and the lemon and orange juice in a bowl. Shake the sesame seeds lightly. Pour dressing over the oysters and sprinkle with spring onion curls, orange peel and roasted sesame seeds.

3 tablespoons Riesling vinegar
The finely grated shell of 1 lime
3 finger limes, halved lengthwise, beads taken out
24 fresh shucked Appellation Rock Oysters
Rock salt. Yarra Valley Caviar salmon pearls. Baby lemon balm leaves (optional).

Put vinegar, lime peel and finger glue beads in a bowl and whisk together. Serve the oysters on a bed of rock salt on a large serving platter. Drizzle dressing over oysters and top with salmon pearls and lemon balm if using.

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