Thu 19 Feb 2009
Last night we cooked for the umpteenth time the pork chops with a cumin-chili powder rub, seared briefly and then baked with garlic, cilantro and lime zest. The pork chops always emerge from the oven surpassingly moist, tender and flavorful. The recipe was originally in Food & Wine magazine in January 2004. Also on the plate, sauteed kale and a mash of sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. A great comfort food dinner!
Obviously these full-flavored and spicy pork chops require a full-flavored wine, so I opened a bottle of the St. Francis Old Vines Zinfandel 2006, Sonoma County. Now the winery isn’t hedging bets with the term “old vines,” which in this case means vines that start at 50 years old and go back to 110 years old. In the venerable Sonoma County tradition, these old vineyards are “field blends,” that is, they contain vines of alicante bouschet and petite sirah and perhaps other red grapes among the zinfandel vines, lending wines made from them a certain dark allure and primeval spiciness.
The St. Francis Old Vines Zinfandel ’06 is a strapping, juicy, earthy wine, a bottleful of dust and minerals and finely milled tannins that permeate luscious flavors of macerated and roasted blackberry, black cherry and black currants zapped with the roughened edge of black pepper and a rooty-mossy tea-like quality. While the alcohol content is an awesome 15.5 percent, this wine is surprisingly balanced and harmonious, though there’s no denying its power; what it is blessedly free of is alcohol-influenced hotness and over-ripe sweetness. No, the wine is almost graceful, almost satiny in its impression upon the palate. After half-an-hour in the glass, the spicy elements come into play, adding touches of cloves and allspice to the rich, dark fruit. The wine ages 14 months in American oak, a process that lends stalwart foundation and framing to the construction. This is, altogether, a well-crafted zinfandel that offers good, old-fashioned pleasure in a sleek package. Excellent. About $20.