Tidal Bay & Steamed Mussels
I made some mussels steamed in a Thai curry sauce for my better half and after his first bite, he took my beer away and left the table. Normally I would object when someone swipes my beer, especially if I'm about to tuck into a bowl of spicy mussels, but I knew better. I'd seen that look on his face before, he had something in mind. I was about to receive a glass of wine, and it would be the absolute perfect thing. The better half has a gift when it comes to this stuff. He makes me seem like a better cook by pouring just the right wine for the dish.
For mussels with a spicy coconut milk green curry sauce, he opened a bottle of Avondale Sky's 2013 Tidal Bay, and everything tasted better.
To prepare the mussels for yourself, start with the following ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root - peeled and minced
- 1-2 tablespoons green curry paste (to taste)
- 1 can coconut milk
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
In a large pot, over medium heat, sautee the garlic and ginger for about a minute.
Add the curry paste and coconut milk and stir, raise heat to medium/high and bring mixture to a boil.
Add the mussels to the pot, cover and cook until for about 5 minutes, until the mussels have opened.
I asked Chris if he would offer some insight into pairing wine with food, and a brief primer on the Tidal Bay appellation, he was kind enough to provide the following.
"While there are many ‘rules’ to food & wine pairing that are subjective at best, I do believe that aromatic compounds and exotic spices in food are enhanced by wines that exhibit similar traits.
For this pairing I suggest the newest vintage of Tidal Bay from winemaker Ben Swetman of Avondale Sky winery. The final blend includes a grape of Germanic heritage, Geisenheim (15%), which gives soft notes of peach alongside the grapefruit and apple flavours of the more dominant L’Acadie Blanc ( 77%). A small portion of the wine was fermented in barrel which adds texture and spice but does not take away from the freshness and clean mineral finish which all Tidal Bay wines are noted for.
An excellent partner to local seafood, spicy cuisine, and a perennial medal winner at the Atlantic Canada Wine Awards.
A new wine initiative outside of the Vintner’s Quality Alliance (VQA) is Nova Scotia’s ‘Tidal Bay’ appellation. While the VQA strictly controls wine standards in the British Columbia and Ontario wine regions, the Nova Scotia appellation is based on European standards such as the French Appellation d’Origine Controlee or Italy’s D.O.C. classification of wines. Hailed as the first true wine appellation in North America, Tidal Bay is designed to encourage winemakers to produce a wine with qualities and characteristics unique to its Nova Scotia origins. It is hoped that it will also increase consumer awareness and add to the appeal of the region’s wines (think of Chianti as a viticultural region that has successfully branded itself to the world).
Produced only as a still white wine - Tidal Bay is a fresh, crisp, off-dry wine with signature Nova Scotia aromatic components. The wines show an abundance of expressive fruit on the nose, along with a brisk minerality, a refreshingly crisp palate, and a sensible (food friendly) alcohol level of between 10 – 11.50% to match perfectly with Atlantic Canada’s famous seafood cuisine.
While these wines are a revelation of sorts, they are hardly a huge surprise – the NS wine industry has grown leaps and bounds in the last decade with new wineries coming on stream every year and local winemakers electing to stay and work in their backyard rather then cutting their vinous chops elsewhere. What is different from the past is that the Tidal Bay wines hit all the right notes that consumers expect in quality winemaking AND are distinctly Nova Scotian in character – they reflect a unique flavour profile that cannot be found anywhere else. These wines reflect the influences of the maritime coastal breezes, cooler climate and shorter growing season of our vineyards.
In recent years, Nova Scotia wines such as Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7 and Jost Vineyard’s Vidal Ice wine have garnered much acclaim in the national press, and with good reason. These award-winning wines offer world-class craftsmanship but are difficult to pin down as profoundly Nova Scotian which is the focal point of the new Tidal Bay appellation.
To achieve this flavour profile the majority of the grapes used in the final blend must be one or more of L’Acadie, Seyval, Vidal and Geisenheim 318, but more than 20 other grapes are also permitted. There is a 15 percent maximum of aromatic grapes like New York Muscat which may be added. No matter what the blend, all grapes used must be 100% Nova Scotia grown. Residual sugar must be kept to a maximum of 20 grams per litre, or twice the acidity, but otherwise, there is leeway in winemaking style. Wines hoping to bear the Tidal Bay appellation are judged by an independent tasting panel to determine whether they merit the awarding of “Tidal Bay” appellation status. The judging panel is comprised of local wine writers, sommeliers, and industry educators. The appellation provides consumers with the assurance that they are getting the best and most representative wines the province’s wineries have to offer.
For the 2013 vintage, nine wineries met the tough criteria for the right to produce a Tidal Bay label. They are listed as follows:
The creation of the Tidal Bay appellation has been an overwhelming success with critics and consumers alike. An exciting step forward for Nova Scotia wines seeking to claim a place on the national and world stage." Chris Makin- resident sommelier.