Fruit Stuffed Pork Loin Roast w/ Bergstrom Pinot Noir

. . Here's a wine+food pairing from Bergstrom's wine club.  In my recent shipment they included this recipe, and being the pork lover that I am, I thought it would be good to share with all my readers.

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Fruit Stuffed Pork Loin Roast

INGREDIENTS 4 lbs boneless pork loin roast prepared for stuffing 1 cup pitted, chopped prunes 1 cup dried, chopped apricots 1 clove garlic 8 TBSP butter 1 TBSP dried thyme 1 cup Madeira 1 TBSP molasses Salt and Pepper to taste . 1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees 2. Mix prunes and apricots, roll up in cavity of pork loin and secure with twine 3. Cut garlic clove into thin sliver, make slits in roast with tip of knife and push garlic into slits 4. Rub the roast with the softened butter then sprinkle with salt & pepper and thyme 5. Set the roast in a shallow pan, mix the Madeira and molasses, then pour over roast 6. Set the roast on the middle rack of the oven and bake 1-1/2 hours or approximately 20 min per pound. Baste frequently. Roast will be medium when the temperature is 160° degrees 7. When roast is done, remove from oven and cover with an aluminum foil tent for 15 min 8. Slice thin and spoon pan juices over slices. Garnish with watercress if desired.

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GARLIC SCALLOPED POTATOES

INGREDIENTS

3 lbs yellow potatoes peeled and sliced thin 2 cloves of garlic 6 TBSP butter 3 cups heavy cream Salt and Pepper to taste . 1. Cut garlic and rub over the survace of a shallow casserole dish 2. Layer potatoes with dots of butter & cream. You can also add caramelized sweet onions to layering if desired 3. Bake slowly at 325° degrees for approximately 1-1/2 hours. It's important to cook slowly so the cream doesn't curdle but gets absorbed by potatoes 4. When done, increase heat to 400° degrees for last 10 minutes to brown tops 5. Let potatoes set for about 10 minutes before serving

Rick's Pick: 2007 Domaine Carneros Avant Garde Pinot Noir

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Finding a good QPR (quality price ratio) Pinot Noir can be a bit tricky.  Pinot is such a temperamental grape—when it's off, it's not very good but when it's good it's magic in a bottle.  Perhaps more than any grape, Pinot Noir expresses it's place or terroir more than just about any grape.  And it does so pretty dramatically.

Because of how temperamental it is, Pinot Noir is all over the place in terms of quality (read: how much you like drinking it).  The grape requires more work in the vineyard and in the winery, which ultimately affects price.  You don't see many $10 Pinots for a reason.  It's not like Chardonnay, Cabernet or Merlot where you can produce the wine more cheaply.  With that said, when you find a Pinot Noir for about twenty bucks that blows your socks off, it's something special.

When I tried the 2007 Domaine Carneros Avant-Garde Pinot for the first time at the winery I said, "@#%! how much is this????"  I had to do a double take to look at the price tag.  This wine is a Rick's Pick for a few reasons:

1. 2007 is a stellar vintage in California, especially in the Napa area.  Most wineries has great fruit to work with, which is 75% of what determines quality.

2. Domaine Carneros produces exceptional sparkling wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  They don't work with many grapes, but luckily Pinot Noir is one of them.

3. Carneros is known for having a great climate for growing grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Carneros is located at the south end of Napa Valley.  Most wine drinkers may not realize how close Carneros is to the bay.  It butts up against the San Pablo bay, which in turn brings cold air off the water over the grapes.  Pinot Noir loves cold air.

4. Domaine Carneros is a fabulous winery, and one of the few wine clubs we belong to.  They are owned by the Tattinger Champagne house in France, so their approach to wine making is exceptional.  I've yet to find a wine of their that wasn't made with precision and quality.

5. The X-Factor I talked about in my 7 Things About Wine post mentions an element you can't quite describe.  A Pinot Noir of this caliber normally goes for $50 easy.  Considering the fact the Avant Garde goes for less than $25 we buy it in bunches.

Get your hands on a bottle and get some in your glass.  Swirl it around and let the fresh aromatics of strawberry, dark raspberries and black cherries take over your senses.  There's a delicate choreography of spicy vibrancy that unfolds across your palate like two dancers on Dancing with the Stars.  It's surprisingly complex and well balanced with just the right amount of funky earthiness and a kiss of oak, letting the fruit show through.  Well done!

Rick's Pick: '07 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Chaumes

Ahhh Burgundy, how we love thee. The Pinot Noir's from Burgundy represent a journey for wine drinkers. They can be equally rewarding and torturous at the same time. The Burgundy Pinot's are like a dominatrix wearing leather slapping you silly and making you call it Momma.

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Pork Tenderloin w/ Carmelized Pears & Pear Cream Sauce

Pork, Pork, Pork and more PORK!

Gotta love how flexible pork is to cook with.  I love pork tenderloin because the recipe usually goes well with some of my favorite wines.  After living in Oregon for 17 years, I fell madly and deeply in love with the Pinot Noir grape, especially from Oregon.  So when dinner involves pork paired with Pinot, I'm a super happy camper.  This recipe is one of the top three best pork recipes I've had in the past year.  If you make this, I'd love to hear what wine you'd pair with it.

INGREDIENTS 1 pork tenderloin, around 1 lb. 2 TBSP olive oil 4 TBSP butter 1 TSP sugar 3 ripe pears, peeled and cut into slices 1/2 cup shallots, minced 1/2 TSP cayenne 1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped 1/3 cup pear jelly 1 TBSP ginger, minced 1 cup whipping cream 1/4 cup sweet dessert wine like late harvest Gewurtz or Riesling (pear brandy can be sub.) 1/2 cup chicken stock Salt and Pepper to taste

Season pork tenderloin with salt, pepper and cayenne. A few hours in advance is even better.

Melt 2 TBSP of butter in a medium skillet, Add sliced pears and sugar, sauté over high heat until pears are golden and tender. Usually 5-10 minutes.

Heat grill to high heat. Grill pork tenderloin over high heat about 12 minutes total making sure to get outside of pork nice and grilled with a crisp exterior. Cooking a shorter time on high heat keeps the center moist, and making the outside crisp. The olive oil will drip off causing the fire in the grill to intensify, making the outside of the pork well grilled (just short of blackening). Pork can also be sautéd in a large skillet instead of grilling.

In a separate large skillet, melt 1 TBSP of butter. Sauté shallots, ginger and thyme for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Add chicken stock and dessert wine, reduce until sauce is thick and almost a glaze. Add in pear jelly and cream and boil until sauce thickens.

Slice pork into medallions and serve with sauce spooned over top. Then light a cigarette.

WINE PAIRING There's a number of different ways you can go with the wine pairing. I'd love to hear suggestions in the comments below.  I tried pairing two wines with this recipe.  The 2007 Cristom Mt. Jefferson Pinot Noir from Oregon and the 2007 Hahn SLH Pinot Gris.  I was curious how the pear/cream sauce would go with the raspberry/strawberry/cranberry notes of the Pinot versus the Granny Smith apple and pear notes of the Pinot Gris from Hahn.

Part of wine+food pairing is trial and error—This was one of those times.  Ultimately, the Pinot Noir was good with pork as it usually is because the two go together like peas and carrots.  But the subtle pear and tree fruit notes didn't compliment the red fruits in the Pinot Noir.  The Hahn SLH Pinot Gris on the other hand DID pair well because Pinot Gris has flavors that match up with the pear and cream sauce.  In this case, the Pinot Gris had enough alcohol and acidity to stand up to the pear cream sauce.

Please let me know what you think would be ideal with this pairing.  Cheers!

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Pinot Noir from Marin County

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as see...
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When you drive over the Golden Gate bridge leaving San Francisco, you immediately go from city scape to Marin county.  Marin was home to Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead as well as some of the bay area's wealthy residents.  Marin is the great outdoors with mansions and high end car dealerships.

Right off highway 101, rolling hillsides meander towards the Pacific Ocean covered in lush green vegetation.  The coastal area is largely undeveloped.  Marin's wine growing region is just south of the Sonoma border, and of all grapes that should do well there, Pinot Noir is it.  The cooler temperatures in Marin county keep the Pinot grapes from getting too much sugar during the growing season.  Some of the vineyards sit on hillsides protected from west winds above the fog level.  This ensures the Pinot grapes get enough early morning sun to help the grape ripen and keep up with the acidity from the cool temps at night.

Soils can be erratic with a mix of clay and high magnesium from serpentine soil.  It's not uncommon to see rock outcroppings that were volcanic tubes filled with magma 150 million years ago.  Over time, the magma cooled leaving rock formations all over the coastal area.

Kendric Vineyards is operated by Stewart Johnson, who is responsible for all aspects of the winery.  He farms the land, he manages the vineyard and he makes the wine.  I met Stewart last month right before the Pinot Summit in Marin.  We had a good laugh that the summit was held in Marin, but his was the only local wine at the event.  The rest of the pinots came from all over the globe.  Stewart and I tasted the 2006 and 2007 side by side.  Case production is close to 375 cases.  I liked the lighter, more refined balanced style of the 2006 over the bigger 2007.  Both offerings were good representations of Marin.

I came away intrigued by this region for growing Pinot Noir.  Keep an eye out for other offerings or grapes that make good use of the cooler weather.  Next up? Chardonnay.

Some possible food pairings to play with for this recipe:

Maple Soy Salmon

Baked Chicken with Rosemary, Bacon and Balsamic

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Balsamic Glazed King Salmon

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I'm finding salmon to be a really great fish for wine and food pairings.  There are so many different ways to prepare salmon, and a wide range of wines to pair with.  One of my favorite grapes is Pinot Noir, and Pinot just happens to go hand in hand with salmon.

This dish makes good use of the Balsamic vinegar to cover up any fishy taste.  Norwegian salmon is nice and fatty, and has a flavor perfect for this dish.  When you grill the salmon, the grilled flavor really gives the salmon a nice glaze.

Check out the 1996 Domaine Leroy Bourgogne from Burgundy. Burgundy Pinot Noirs take longer to come together in the bottle so you have to be patient.  When you get a good one, it's magic in a bottle.  Burgundy has 4 levels designated on their labels:

Bourgogne - when you see that on the label, it means the grapes were sourced from anywhere in Burgundy.  Pretty broad area.

Villages - Burgundy is broken up into villages, such as Cote de Nuits.  This zooms into a smaller area within Burgundy.  Grapes from that village are in a Villages bottle, pronounced (vilaj).

1er Cru - Also known as Premiere Cru.  This zooms in even more to a specific vineyard that's within a village, which is within Burgundy.  Pinot really starts to express terroir when you get into a specific vineyard.  Quality and collectility goes up.

Grand Cru - When you get a wine from a Grand Cru vineyard, you have something special.  This is the ultimate expression of terroir and winemaking.  Some Grand Cru wines from Burgundy fetch upwards of $2,000 a bottle because the quality is the highest, but supply is the lowest.

Leroy is one of the top producers in Burgundy, so although her Bourgogne is the lowest of the four levels, hers is still spectacular.  The 1996 is very youthful, velvety and complex.  Aromas out of the glass are like a tractor beam bringing the glass to your lips—you're powerless to stop it.

LeroyBoug

recipe from Chef Ron Barber

INGREDIENTS 4 salmon steaks – about 6 ounces each, 1 inch thick 1 cup balsamic vinegar 1/2 cup Cabernet Franc 1 TBSP fresh lime juice 1 TSP sugar

Combine the balsamic vinegar, wine, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and reduce the mixture by half – allow to cool.  Add the salmon steaks to the marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Prepare a charcoal or gas grill.  Remove the salmon from the marinade and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper and grill over high heat for about 4 minutes per side.  Serve with grilled vegetables and steamed rice.

photo via SheKnows

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7 Wines That Go With Thanksgiving

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When picking wines for Thanksgiving, there are different choices for different times throughout the day.  This year I'll be considering some of these wines for Thanksgiving at Chéz Bakas:

Find these wines at a store near where you live on grappos.com

Broadbent Vinho Verde - aperitif When Uncle Earl shows up to Thanksgiving he's ready to watch football and start grazing.  Sure, you could put a beer in his hand and he'd be happy as a clam.  OR, you could give Uncle Earl some sophistication and introduce him to a new wine.  Vinho Verde is a great pre-dinner wine because it's lower in alcohol (much to Earl's shagrin) and also has a light effervescence to it. You want to keep your edge. Thanksgiving is a marathon, not a sprint. Ease your liver into the evening with a lighter white wine that's easy to sip. Broadbent Vinho Verde is one of the only Vinho Verde's shipped to the U.S. in refrigerated containers which is important because freshness is what this wine is all about.

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Sokol Blosser Evolution - aperitif, dinner The Sokol Blosser Evolution white blend is a fun wine for many occasions. It's hard to describe exactly what it is or what's in it, but all I know is it works—by itself or with food.   Evolution is a blend of 9 different white grapes that all hold hands and play Red Rover with your palate. You can sip on Evolution before dinner or with it. The most recent edition of Evolution reminds me of the older editions with a touch more sweetness aka residual sugar....but just a touch.

evolution

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St. Supery Virtu - dinner I'm not just picking this wine because I work for the winery (disclosure) but also because the Virtu combines the best of two worlds. Sauvignon Blanc is more of an aromatic wine than a "rich mouth feel" wine. Semillion is the opposite. It's got more of a creamy texture that you'd associate with a buttery Chardonnay, but it's not as aromatic. Virtu joins them together like Voltron to form a rich, creamy textured wine with the floral components that do the tango with Thanksgiving turkey on your taste buds. In my other Thanksgiving post I mention Pinot Gris or a drier Riesling as a wine to compliment the turkey with acidity to cut through gravy. The Virtu accomplishes many of the same things as those two wines for the same reasons.

virtu

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Chateau Musar Cuvee Rosé - dinner I've tried many rosés recently from so many different grapes around the world. One of my favorites is the Musar Cuvee from Lebanon. Made from 100% Cinsault, the Musar rosé is like a 50/50 blend of cherry cider and cranberry cider. It's dry, but not too dry. There's just enough residual sweetness so your cheeks don't pucker. The balance between alcohol, fruit and acidity is ideal.  Because of it's resemblance to cranberry, it compliments the main course.

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Hahn SLH Pinot Gris - dinner There's something about the Hahn SLH Pinot Gris that almost evokes an emotional response. It's such a pretty wine with elegance and refinement, yet pure quality fruit and acidity that is great to sip by itself. Since Thanksgiving is a special occasion, why not share with others. I really like about a dozen Alsatian Pinot Gris, but most recently this one has been near and dear to my heart.  It features a silky honey texture with floral notes of a Hawaiian garden.  Hahn does it again! A3586 PGRIS SLH F cmn foil.eps

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St. Supéry Moscato - after dinner aperitif With age, comes wisdom. And the wisdom I've gained over the years is by the time Thanksgiving dinner is over, I'm usually stuffed and not able to bend at the waist in any sort of sitting position. I'm usually laying on my back counting how many calories I just ingested. You'd think the wisdom would be don't eat so much. Either way, I'm learning to skip dessert and not eat any more. The problem is I still have a hankering for something sweet. The Moscato has filled that slot nicely. It scratches that itch for something sweet after dinner without being too high in alcohol or being food. The only way pumpkin pie is going to be eaten is if I store it in my esophagus while I'm waiting for my stomach to empty.  This wine features aromatic fireworks of peaches and cream without being too syrupy.  It's got some finesse, which is nice after a big meal. The Moscato is the so popular at St. Supéry that it has its own wine club.

stsuperymoscato

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Broadbent Malmsey Madeira - dessert If you do find room for dessert, I admire you. Did you know a good Madeira like Broadbent's will go with virtually any dessert? It's not cooking Madeira, it's the stuff that's made to enjoy in a glass. I've tried Madeira with ice cream, cheesecake, chocolate cake, bananas foster, créme brulée and various other desserts. The Madeira went with all of them. In fact, you could dip a piece of bread in balsamic vinegar then eat and still have Madeira "cut through" the balsamic taste. Good Madeira might possible be the most perfect dessert wine.

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So there you have it.  Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Some poor sucker is doing the dishes while everyone else is trying to alter their bodily chemistry with coffee to offset the effects of Tryptophan.  I hope this guide helps give an idea of what wine to serve at what time throughout the day in order to get the most satisfaction and bang for your buck.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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HOW TO: Pair Wine with Thanksgiving Dinner

As you sit down to stuff your pie hole this Thanksgiving, you might not know which wine to wash it down with.  364 days I year I love geeking out on wine and food pairings.  Usually around late morning each day I'm thinking about what the main course will be for dinner, and which wine will compliment it.  It's pretty straightforward most of the time, but when Thanksgiving comes around, it's that one day out of the year where I feel like I'm playing Rugby with my taste buds. All the flavors together resemble a demolition derby of delectables that are all having a scrum on your dinner plate.  You have turkey, which is kind of dry until you gravy on it.  You have cranberry sauce, which is tart and sweet and gelatinous.  And you have mashed potatoes which are a starch (hopefully with butter) and of course all the other trimmings.  Where the hell is the bacon in all this?

There's no single wine that will compliment all of that.  My Mom usually just says, "screw it, I'm serving a buttery Chardonnay."  That's one approach.  Not really one that'll compliment the flavors, but it's one approach.  Keep in mind, the five taste regions on your palate are probably sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami aka savory.  I say probably because every time I do a presentation about your taste buds, someone always comes up afterwards and reminds me the taste region theory is outdated and has been disproven.  It works for me.

If you really want to bring out the nuances of flavor through complimentary tastes, you might want to consider serving a couple of wines with dinner.  In recent years the Bakas family has been going with a 2-wine solution to Thanksgiving Dinner—A dry Rosé and a Riesling both for the main course.

The right Rosé will be dry with cranberry cider notes while hiding residual sugar.  That's ideal if your turkey wasn't brined for a month, then mummified in bacon.  It serves the same purpose as cranberry sauce to compliment the meal.  Pinot Noir can also be a good option if you want to have a red wine with dinner.  Pinot is light enough that it won't overpower the turkey while providing a warm cozy feeling for your taste buds.  Pinot Noir is also good if your table looks funny with just a rosé and riesling on it.  You might want to have a member of the red wine contingent in attendance and that's when you bring out the Pinot Noir.

The Riesling should usually be on the dry side too and could even be a Pinot Gris.  Alsatian wines are great with Thanksgiving due to their acidity and restraint of sweetness.  You want acidity in wine to "cut through" things like gravy or mashed potatoes.  A dry turkey will also benefit from a little residual sweetness.  Not that your turkey will be dry, it's just the nature of the bird. So there you have it.  When pairing wines with Thanksgiving dinner, reach for a nice pink wine not called White Zin and a drier style white wine like Riesling or Pinot Gris.  Depending on what you cram into your mouth will determine which wine glass to sip out of to compliment the flavors.  Of course, if you're my Uncle Earl you'll just have a beer.

Cheers!

10 Ways to Hide Wine from Your Spouse

Scooby-Doo
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Sometimes you have a really good bottle of wine that you don't want to share with anyone.  Kind of like a snot nosed kid in the sandbox who doesn't want to share the newest toy.

There.  I said it.  I love my wife, but sometimes I just don't want to share.  Like the 20 year Tawny port I'm drinking right now.  Here's a few ways to hide wine from your spouse:

10. In your stomach. 9. You know those little wood barrels St. Bernard dogs wear around their necks?  Those can hold a full bottle of Pinot Noir. 8. Old desktop computer towers can hold two bottles, but don't turn 'em on because they'll cook the wine 7. "Why is this pillow so hard?" 6. I asked our cat if I could bury a bottle or two in her litter box.  I took her blank stare as a yes. 5. Remember on Scooby Doo how you could tilt a book on the book shelf and a secret lab behind the bookcase would appear?  Picture that, but a wine cellar. 4. A lawn mower bag can hold an entire case. 3. Baggy MC Hammer pants with carefully placed holsters can hold up to 5 lbs. a leg. The down side is you walk like John Wayne. 2. Hollow out a log in the fireplace.  Just don't forget it's there. 1. Some humidifiers can hold an entire bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

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Maple Soy Salmon

Grades of Vermont maple syrup. From left to ri...
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Serves 4 people

2 6-OZ salmon fillets with skin 1/3 cup maple syrup 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce 1 TSP adobo sauce ¼ TSP garlic salt Hollandaise (mix or from scratch)

In small bowl whisk together maple syrup, soy sauce, adobo and garlic salt.  Place salmon skin down in an 8x8 glass dish.  Pour mixture over salmon, flip salmon over and marinate skin side up for at least 3 hours (marinating longer will cover up fishy flavor).

Cook salmon on grill over medium heat 4-6 minutes skin side up, then about 4-6 minutes skin side down.  Salmon grilling tips here.

Remove salmon from grill, make sure to remove skin thoroughly.  Serve with hollandaise on the side or spooned over salmon.

To pair with this recipe I like Pinot Noir.  Pinot is a great wine to pair with salmon anyway, but the maple-soy flavors really work well with the nuances of a quality Pinot Noir.  Some of the Pinots I've found to be ideal with this are Soter Beacon Hill from Oregon, Klee from Oregon, Aresti from Chile or Sebastiani Pinot from CA.

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