I went to Estrella del Norte Vineyards in Nambe this weekend. Eileen and Richard have done an amazing job with their vineyard in only a few years. They have a prize winning Pinot Noir from the grapes grown right there and some other nice wines from grapes they grow around the state. They are now the largest grower in New Mexico.
I tried their chenin blanc which was a little too light for my taste. I like my whites to have some heft. I found just that in their 2010 Symphony, an Alsace style wine. It’s a varietal comprised of Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris. A wonderful nose, I found it spicy with a little minerality. I also like the steel barrel aged Nambe White.
I tried some reds but more about that later. I was there to take home some fruit wines. They have some beautiful old apple and pear trees there at Estrella del Norte. I was pleased to hear they were making wine from the fruit. I wanted to make a pork roast with apples and leeks and one of their fruit wines would be perfect for the vegetables and sauce. So, along with a few bottles of their other great wines, I got a bottle of Geronimo’s Gold Apple Dessert Wine.
- 3 medium apples, cut in 1/2 “ pieces
- 4 leeks, white and light green part only, cut in ½” rounds. Place in bowl of cold water and swish around to get the dirt from between the layers.
- 6 medium carrots, cut in 1/2 “
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped medium
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- 2 ½ lb pork roast, cut in two equal pieces to facilitate even cooking
- ¾ cup spelt flour
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- ¼ to ½ tsp. additional cumin, optionals
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 bottle Geronimo’s Gold Apple Wine
- ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup olive oil, separated for sauté
- 1 TBSP butter
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush a 9X13 Baking dish with the olive oil.
- Dredge the roasts in the flour on all sides. Push some of the flour into the roasts so it sticks well to the surface.
- Drain the leeks and dry between paper towels. Separate the rounds into thinner pieces so they will cook quicker.
- Melt 2 TBSP olive oil and the 1 TBSP of butter over medium high heat and sauté carrots for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add apples and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir frequently.
- Add leeks and sauté for another 3 minutes and stir in cilantro. Remove from heat and pour into an oiled 9X13 baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and set aside.
- Add 2 TBSP olive oil to same pan and heat to medium high. Add roasts to pan and brown on ALL sides.
- Make a space in the baking dish so that the roasts rest on the surface of the dish and not on top of vegetables and add the roasts. Cover with aluminum foil and put in preheated oven.
- Start the time for an hour.
- In pan on stove, add 2 more TBSP of olive oil and heat to medium high. Add ¼ cup of the leftover flour mixture and toast the flour. About 4 minutes. Whisk constantly to keep it from burning.
- Lower the heat to simmer and carefully add the chicken broth whisking the whole time to keep it from clumping. Bring heat back up and add wine, vinegar and honey. Bring to boil and cook until mixture begins to thicken. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Turn off heat and bring out roast from oven.
- Pour sauce over roast and vegetables. Return to oven.
- Start checking roast at about 50 minutes. You want the inside temperature to be 160 degrees. You want the roast to be cooked through, not pink.
- When done rest on counter for 5 minutes. Slice. Serve with parmesan mashed potatoes.
I took some over to the vineyard for Eileen to sample. I asked her to suggest one of her whites to go with it. She suggested their Riesling. I loved the Riesling with the pork. It added a deep complexity to the roast and added to its own depth. (I am having a glass right now to make sure of my findings! Yup, it’s a very nice wine.) I want to try the Nambe white again. I think it would be a great choice too. It’s a blend of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc and with its hint of apple would also make a nice wine for the pork dish.
If you prefer a red, I ‘d go with their pinot noir. It’s lighter than Oregon Pinots and with its hint of earth and spice would complement but not overwhelm the dish.
I think it’s time we looked at New Mexico wines with a new awareness. Today, New Mexico boasts 46 wineries and produces nationally and internationally award winning wines. I used to say that New Mexico wines lacked complexity. I figured the vines weren’t old enough, the vintners weren’t knowledgeable enough. Either I was wrong (could be) or the industry has grown by leaps and bounds in 15 years. (Probably some of both….) I had some really fine wines at Estrella del Norte.
I want to mention Holy Mole! What? I had to try it. I figured it was a gimmicky wine, a wine for people who don’t really like wine. Kind of like I think of white zinfandel. It’s a Zin with almond, chocolate and red chile. What a waste of a good Zin, if indeed, it WAS a good Zin. Boy, was I wrong. It WAS a good Zin. The infusions were in no way intrusive, just adding a hint of complex flavors to the wine. Estrella del Norte recommends it for burgers and taco but I think it could hold court with any beef dish and not feel out of its league.
I bought a bottle of their Silver Medal winner Founders Blend, a Bordeaux style wine from Cab Franc and Cabernet. They weren’t pouring it on their tasting menu and I’m anxious to try it. Eileen says it will get better in the bottle. I’ll try to wait…..
For more information about New Mexico wines:
“Wines of Enchantment, A Guide to Finding and Enjoying the Wines of New Mexico” by Jim Hammond.
Estrella del Norte Vineyards: estrelladelnortevineyards.com. They will ship and they have a wine club. They are located on N.Shining Sun. How perfect is that?????