January 18, 2006
MAN Vintners 2005 South Africa Chenin Blanc
(Imported by Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, Ala.; about $9)
January is hard to love: The days are short and the snow hasn't gotten deep yet, if it's fallen at all. The month's saving grace is the "r" in its name, a signal that oysters are at their peak (they tend to get a little soft and flabby at spawning time, in the spring.) And they are one of the few sea creatures on the "Enjoy!" side of The Fish List (thefishlist.org), a guide put together by environmental groups to help us determine what's too endangered or polluted to enjoy.
To wash down these briny gems, a beer will do, but better would be a crisp, cool white wine. Chenin blanc from South Africa can fit the bill when it's as good as Man Vintners 2005 version. It's got the snap of a cold breeze along with the fruity bite of a granny smith apple - just the thing to complement the briny shiver of an oyster going down.
This review first appeared in the Denver Post.