Pork Chops with Red Peppers; a Sauvignon Kickoff and a Choice of Reds

We began by sipping some Leyda Garuma Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from Chile via the Wine Society. It is a single vineyard wine with huge, for Sauvignon, 14% alcohol, but much crisper than that might imply. The label says “Ripe citrus aromas such as grapefruit combine with fresh green limes on the nose. On the palate this wine is fully concentrated and fresh with mineral tones at the front, a rich mid palate and a well balanced grapefruit character on the finish.” There are no food recommendations. The WS says that it is “…impressive, nettley Sauvignon from a very cool coastal region…”. It cost £6.95

I can only add that the description on the label is pretty good, it makes a wonderfully appetising aperitif, particularly mineral and edgy. Like many new World Sauvignons it is a bit assertive for food – perfect as an aperitif.

I have written about this pork chop recipe before. D grills big, well-trimmed rare-breed chops and serves them with spinach and a red pepper sauce that provides the fruity, slightly sweet accompaniment that pork seems to need. The sharper edge of spinach prevents it all getting too cosy and there are sautée potatoes, this time new potatoes sautéed whole, for contrasting texture.

I like my pork with berry-like red wines not plushy, leathery ones so I incline to Eastern France rather than the West or South. I first brought up a bottle of Laudun Cotes du Rhone Villages, Chateau Courac 2005 which I bought in bond for £5.93 and which my cellar book tells me ought be drinking very well now. (Sterling weakness and the cost of cellaring might bring this to £9 retail today.) But Syrah/Grenache is getting to be a habit so I wondered about the possibility of a light but tannic Cabernet Franc from the Loire. As it happens I had been given a bottle of Chinon Domaine de Beausejour 2003 which is 100% Cabernet Franc. It is 12.5% alcohol and, bought retail, would likely cost £10 – £12 .

First theRhone, which would be my normal choice. This one has a lot of Syrah, a very dark,
purpley red colour and a wonderfully ripe nose. On its own there is a hint of the chocolate that some people detect in Syrah, though the heart is really the fruit. With the meal it is full and fruity, though I might have preferred something with a bit more acidity. It is nevertheless very good and pretty well at its peak.

The Chinon is significantly older and frankly a bit past its best. The colour is now garnet (that’s a bit brown to you and me) and it lacks the firmness I have come to expect of Loire Cabernet Franc – my experience is with Bourgueil and St Nicholas de Bourgueil. It is however quite fruity and the tannins have integrated well, so it is a really interesting mouthful. Very clean despite its age and roundness, and clearly defined in contrast to recent fuzzy and jammy varietals. We both liked it a lot, though we would have preferred the encounter to have occurred two or three years earlier. However, it still had plenty of concentration and had no trouble making itself felt alongside this tasty dish. So rather than drink half of each bottle, we concentrated on the Chinon, which might deteriorate rapidly, and kept most of the Rhone for tomorrow.

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