Erath Winery ( www.erath.com ) is located in the Dundee Hills, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. For over forty years this winery has produced their wines, longer than any other vineyards in the Dundee Hills. The Willamette Valley is well known for producing some of the best Pinot Noir on earth, and when Dick Erath relocated to the Red Hills in 1968 and planted his first grapes the next year, he became a pioneer. His 1982 Pinot Noir inspired many great winemakers to relocate to the Dundee Hills.
So as I had just returned from a lengthy business trip my wife had decided to surprise me with a very special dinner, the star of which was a pork roast with all the fixings. She asked me to come up with something special from the wine cellar, so away I went. Now I have my wine cellar set up probably a little different than most people, by keeping some of my most coveted and special wines at the very top of the racks, where my wife can’t reach them. Ok, I know that sounds kind of mean, but having an expensive and quite awesome bottle of wine opened and enjoyed with burgers and “the girls” while I am away can cause some shall we say, issues.
So instead of checking the computer to locate a special bottle I decided to just look through the top shelves and see what I could come up with. As I felt like a good Pinot Noir would taste excellent, I started looking through the top of the Pinot shelves, and there it was, a 2008 bottle of Erath La Nuit Magique Pinot Noir. You can’t miss the dark bottle with the handwriting in gold. It just shouts special at you.
I opened the bottle and got down a couple of Pinot glasses and proceeded to pour a taste in one. As I was pouring, the aroma of this wine couldn’t wait to be inhaled by my senses as it rose to greet me. A swirl and a slight sniff followed by a soft sip and I found my senses rejoicing as they were filled by the soft red plums with a hint of cinnamon. My palate engulfed by the chocolate, orange and pomegranate flavors followed gently with light cedar and easily manageable tannins.
This is not your average Pinot Noir in any sense of the word, but rather a solid full mouthful of flavor not usually found in this varietal. As you let it swirl around in your mouth and it’s absorbed during its progression you know you are enjoying something special. That’s what I was feeling as my eyes met those of my wife as she reached for my glass. I watched as she relived my pure joy of this wine and then we both savored each glass until regretfully it was gone. The meal was outstanding, but believe me the star was this great Pinot Noir. After dinner I received what I expected, the big question, one I already had the answer to. “Honey, do you have any more of that Erath Pinot Noir?” I didn’t, but believe me I have a case on its way as I type.
This is one of those wines that are definitely an “occasion wine”, for that romantic evening with your significant other, with good friends, or maybe when you have the boss and his or her spouse over for dinner. If you have the opportunity to purchase some of this excellent Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, learn from my mistake, buy a few bottles, at least. At $65 a bottle, you too will find out why they will all be at the top of my shelves, but also that they are definitely worth it.
A totally awesome pairing to have with this wine.
Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Loin
8 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) tied boneless pork loin roast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
Blend the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and oil in a small food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the garlic is minced.
Sprinkle the pork roast generously with salt and pepper. Arrange the pancetta slices on a work surface, overlapping slightly and forming a rectangle. Spread half of the garlic mixture over 1 side of the pork and between the 2 loins that meet in the center of the tied pork roast. Place the pork, garlic mixture side down, in the center of the pancetta rectangle. Spread the remaining garlic mixture over the remaining pork. Wrap the pancetta slices around the pork. Place the pork in a roasting pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Pour 1/2 cup of broth and 1/2 cup of wine into the roasting pan. Add more broth and wine to the pan juices every 20 minutes. Roast the pork until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees F for medium-rare, about 1 hour. Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and let stand for 10 minutes. Pour the pan drippings into a glass measuring cup and spoon off any fat that rises to the top.
Using a large sharp carving knife, cut the pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve with the pan juices.