Mon 10 May 2010
The preparation couldn’t be simpler. Clean the little creatures, dip them first in milk and then in bread crumbs (with salt and pepper and maybe a squeeze of chili powder) and fry them in olive oil. We like these sandwiches with ciabatta rolls because they have a nice chewy texture and stand up well to any grease or drippiness. (And what’s a soft-shell crab sandwich sans a bit of grease and drippiness?) A dollop of remoulade sauce, layers of lettuce and tomato, and voila! mighty fine eatin’ as they say in Gay Paree.
I cast about looking at this wine and that wine, taking a sip here and a sip there, and finally settled on the Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2009, from New Zealand’s well-known Marlborough region. This is a delicious and eloquent expression of the sauvignon blanc grape, but I’m as fascinated by its making as by its lovely qualities, so if it doesn’t totally geek you out, allow me to mention a few factors. The grapes ferment in a combination of French oak barriques and stainless steel tanks, 12 percent of the former, 88 percent (of course) of the latter. The oak barrels themselves are a combination of new barrels — a bare 4 percent — and “seasoned” barrels, that is, previously used, so they have largely lost their toasty character. After fermentation, the wine ages in these carefully chosen vessels for four months, on the lees of spent yeast cells.
So, what do we have?
A sauvignon blanc from New Zealand that avoids the excesses and exaggerations that we have come to recognize instantly in so many sauvignon blanc wines from that nation of narrow islands. The Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc 2009 displays fine balance between stone fruit and citrus fruit, meaning the lushness of peach and nectarine, on the one hand, poised with the zesty, lean and slightly bitter nature of lime peel and grapefruit on the other; a touch of apple blossom in the nose serves as a bridge to a hint of green apple in the mouth. Lively acidity, like a clear bell-tone, lends the wine sinew and nerve, while a prominent mineral element — soft as talc and sharp as limestone — builds the structure from mid-palate back through a clean, spicy finish. Now through 2012, whether with soft-shell crab sandwiches, sushi, grilled shrimp or fried trout in a classic brown butter and caper sauce. Excellent. About $22.
Imported by Kobrand Corp., Purchase, N.Y. A sample for review.