The oysters from Arcachon Bay Cap Ferret all have organoleptic characteristics that are the result of the link between the land and sea, something that is specific to the lagoon. A study by the Arcachon Aquitaine Regional Shellfish Committee in partnership with Bordeaux Sud-Ouest oenologists was carried out in 2002 in order to determine the organoleptic features of oysters originating from the four main production areas – the “terroirs” – of the Arcachon Basin. The oenologists therefore succeeded in characterising each terroir according to its smell, flavour and texture.
The Grand Banc is one of the most popular terroirs in the Basin, offering up a fruity oyster reminiscent of green-white fruits such watermelon and green pear. When opening the shell, there are notes of citrus zest. Once opened, we find notes of flint, gunflint and chalk. At the end, a ‘reduced’ nose offers up notes of fresh seaweed and empyreumatic toasted hazelnuts. In the mouth, the feel of the mollusc is both firm and smooth. The finish at the end is more velvety and fondant like.
The farms at Cap Ferret, although sheltered from the prevailing winds, are swept by the most powerful currents in the Bay and it is here that the rising waters of the ocean mix with those of the Bay. These contrasting influences lend the oysters a complex and delicate aroma that is both marine and vegetal. The notes of sea spray and fresh seaweed, iodine and chalk quickly give way to notes of fresh vegetables such as lamb’s lettuce, rocket and sucrine, complete with the zest of green citrus fruits and fresh almonds. The mollusc is crunchy and velvety on the palate.
This sandbank is located in the channels that connect the Bay to the ocean, at the foot of the Dune du Pilat. The oysters in these oceanic waters taste strongly of both the land and the Atlantic. The aromatic intensity is strong and complex: chalk aromas blend with those of fresh seaweed. There are notes of the undergrowth and fresh porcini mushrooms alongside more marine-like notes, such as spray and iodine. Milky notes of crème fraîche and dried fruits are clearly discernable on the palate. The palate is dense, velvety, tender and sweet.
This is the largest and oldest of the oyster-farming areas and it benefits from the waters entering from the River Leyre and its catchment area. This forest-like influence is particularly noticeable in the taste of the character-filled oysters of this terror: there are vegetal aromas of celery and fresh broccoli, and of the undergrowth in the form of fresh mushrooms, dead leaves and damp soil. At the start, the minerality is obvious, complete with hints of gun flint. The mollusc is firm and crunchy, offering a marked salinity.
Mint, citrus, fresh vegetables, seaweed, freshness
Elegant and harmonious nose of green fruits, fresh meadow, iodine
Discreet nose of toasted hazelnuts, fresh porcini mushrooms, fresh seaweed, grapefruit, alliaceae
Fresh hay, broccoli, celery, metallic and mineral notes
Slightly iodized, fresh almond, breadcrumbs, butter
Softness, sweetness, slightly harsh, a hint of evergreen, minerality, breadcrumbs, dry cereals
Fresh almond, cream, sucrine salad leaves, Comté cheese
Salty, chalk, toasted walnuts, butter, wax polish, tannins, rocket, lamb’s lettuce, long aromatic evergreen
Smooth, firm, melting, elegant, volume and structure in the mouth
Velvety, a little crunchy, thick and elastic
Soft, smooth, soft, dense
Crunchy, firm, velvety, smooth
Table summarising the sensory characteristics of oysters from the Arcachon Bay Source: Partnership of CRCAA & Oenologists Bordeaux Sud Ouest
Aromas : Mint, citrus, fresh vegetables, seaweed, freshness
Flavours : Slightly iodized, fresh almond, breadcrumbs, butter
Textures : Smooth, firm, melting, elegant, volume and structure in the mouth
Aromas : Elegant and harmonious nose of green fruits, fresh meadow, iodine
Flavours : Softness, sweetness, slightly harsh, a hint of evergreen, minerality, breadcrumbs, dry cereals
Textures : Velvety, a little crunchy, thick and elastic
Aromas : Discreet nose of toasted hazelnuts, fresh porcini mushrooms, fresh seaweed, grapefruit, alliaceae
Flavours : Fresh almond, cream, sucrine salad leaves, Comté cheese
Textures : Soft, smooth, soft, dense
Aromas : Fresh hay, broccoli, celery, metallic and mineral notes
Flavours : Salty, chalk, toasted walnuts, butter, wax polish, tannins, rocket, lamb’s lettuce, long aromatic evergreen
Textures : Crunchy, firm, velvety, smooth