Sunday, 2 September 2012

Pinot Noir with Pork Chops tonight!

My bride and I have some pork in our diet, usually when having Chinese dumplings or Yum Cha.  Or sometimes we will dice it and stir-fry it for a pork salad or mixed with rice.

However, it has been ages since I have had a man-size pork chop for dinner.  My mom used to make pork chops as regular fair when I was growing up, but I believe it has actually been decades since I have had a pork chop.  We are also having mash potatoes and salad to go with the chops.  I sure my bride will be publishing an upcoming post with the recipe in DAZ in the Kitchen sometime soon!  (in fact, she just posted the recipe and blog entry for great pork chops a bit ago.  Here it is at DAZ in the Kitchen.)

The pork chops are currently slow cooking in the oven for about five hours (and smell great BTW!).  Therefore, I expect them to be juicy and flavorful throughout.  I considered a few options for the wine, include Pinot Noir, a GSM (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre) combination such as a Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Les Sinard, or a true Burgandy Pinot Noir.

A safe choice would have been the Bannockburn Pinot Noir from Victoria, but since this was a new dish and ripe with juices and flavours, I wanted something a little more adventuresome, not an easy, elegant, refined Pinot Noir.  I wanted a big, aged Pinot Noir with complex flavors and big fruit flavors.  A Charteris Pinot Noir from New Zealand could do the trick, but my Pinots from PJ (Chateris) are only three or four years old.  PJ's Pinot Noirs are big and elegant at the same time and beautifully drinkable now.  However, I like to challenge my Pinot Noirs to age in complexity and show me how good they are in old age!  (Maybe this is a transference to something I am doing as I approach 60!)

I have had some 2003 and 2004 Pinot Noirs from Blueberry Hill in the Hunter Valley.  As you know, I favor the Hunter Valley for my Shiraz, Semillon, and Chardonnay.  I do not really buy Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon from the Hunter.  However, I there have been two Pinot Noirs I sampled and liked, including a specially blended (2005 and 2008 grapes) Pinot Noir from Sandalyn in Lovedale and the Blueberry Hill's Pinot Noirs.  I bought four bottles of the 2003 and also several bottles of the 2004 Blueberry Hill Pinot Noir, but for some reason have never drunk them.

I always pick one of the bottles up and admire the beautiful labels used for the Blueberry Hill wines, but for some reason or another, have put it down and selected something else to go with dinner.  I actually cannot explain this, except to say that I am a creature of habit and only having been to the winery twice, I never got into regular tastings year-in, year-out like I have for some of my other Hunter Valley favorites.  Therefore, my beautiful bottles of Blueberry Hill have sat and collected dust!

If you know your Pinot Noir grape at all, you know many good bottles will go off after 10 years.  I have recently had some magnificent Pinot Noirs which have been 10 - 12 years old and really try to push this limit as the wine grows in complexity and elegance.  However, if you wait too long, it loses its flavor unless you like drinking the flavor of vinegar!  Therefore, if I have a dozen or more of one particular vintage of Pinot Noir, I will sample a bottle every couple of years (and enjoy it along the way!) to be able to determine the best time to drink most of the bottles.

Unfortunately, I did not do that with the 2003 Blueberry Hill Pinot Noir.  When I opened the bottle, my immediate reaction was that the wine was dead, and completely flavorless.  However, this was just from the neck of the wine after removing the cork.  When I decanted it, I could tell the color was still good and had not turned brown.  There was only a very slight indication of that.  And after decanting and pouring a glass (of course into my favorite Riedel Vinum Pinot Noir glass), I was able to nose some remaining fruit.  Upon tasting, I enjoyed plum and a bit of leather taste.  The texture was perfect with fully integrated tannins.

The wine is still very drinkable, but should have optimally been drunk in 2007 - 2009, not at the end of 2012.  The wine is somewhat fragile (notice the loose edge between light and dark red color in the glass in the picture above).  Therefore, while still flavorful, the flavor breaks down quickly in your mouth and does not have much finish.

I can tell this was a good bottle of wine, but should have been drunk when five years old, not at nine years of age.  I will need to drink the other bottles quickly and may use some of them for an educational tasting seminar, in terms of comparing a young, aging, mature and past due wine of the same grape and maker.

This wine is certainly good to drink with dinner and will go well with the pork chops and mash, but I did both myself and Blueberry Hill a dis-service to wait this long to drink it. I will need to stop by Blueberry Hill the next time I am in the Hunter Valley and get a couple of bottles of the current release.  They make a nice Hunter Valley Pinot Noir and not many Hunter Valley wineries can say that!  And thanks to Riedel for their Pinot Noir glass which help funnel and save the remaining flavor of this wine!  It's a good thing my head isn't smaller, or I might get it caught in the globe since I really do like to stick my nose in there!

Update two hours after opening bottle and with dinner:  This wine improved significantly, with the little bit of brackish taste having worn off.  It was a real treat with the pork chop and mash!  Well done to the cook and the winemaker!

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