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Pork Shoulder and Pinot

I wrote a post here about the first course’s punch and have a couple articles in Spotlight Toronto’s 30 Days of Local Wine Series about the wine matching for my Foodbuzz 24: Terry Fox meal.  I’ve covered the drinks for the first few courses and left the main course until now.  From the moment that I submitted a proposal to do a meal for this round of the Foodbuzz 24 I knew that my main course was going to be roast pork from Perth Pork Products but what wine to pair with it?  Inspired by Charlie Palmer’s Pigs and Pinot event, my desire to showcase what Ontario does best and the fact that I had a couple of very good bottles on hand I decided to pair my main course with Pinot Noir.

We polished off a total of four different Ontario Pinots and found some really interesting differences between them.  The line-up was Coyote’s Run Red Paw Vineyard 2007, Inniskillin Winemaker’s Series Three Vineyards 2007, Flat Rock Cellars 2008 and 2009.  Three wineries (and at least five vineyards) and three vintages with lots of overlap for plenty of comparison.

Four bottles that were generously sent to me by Inniskillin. Pinot Noir on the left.

First up the Three Vineyards Pinot Noir from the 2007 Inniskillin Winemaker’s Series stands out from the crowd.  It’s aroma is darker and more complex than the average Pinot Noir.  Notes of chocolate on both the nose and palate tied together my experience with this wine that matched well with the pork.  I had a half-glass of the Inniskillin on the go while I was plating so got to taste the food-wine interaction as I tested everything.

The 2008 from Flat Rock

Getting to sample the two Pinot Noirs from Flat Rock was my first shot at a mini-vertical tasting with a meal.  With the caveats that they are both very drinkable wines and that the ’08 obviously has a year on the ’09 I couldn’t help notice how remarkably different they are.  My corner of the table compared notes on the differences and definitely agreed that ’08 has more oak, a darker colour in the glass and a thicker, richer mouthfeel.  The ’09 is a lighter wine with room to develop and some unpleasant aromas that my tablemates found but remained hidden from my nose.

My plate and the Coyote's Run in the background

On its own the Red Paw Pinot Noir from Coyote’s Run is one of my favourite Ontario wines.  It’s complex, full of red fruit flavours, and has tons of finish.  Alongside the food many of these attributes were admittedly weakened.  There was a lot on the plate–the most full-flavoured pork I have ever had, roasted potatoes, a mustard pickle preserve, and a peach sauce.  It would have been really interested to put a Black Paw Pinot Noir up against the Red and see if food makes an difference to their usual dichotomy.

Pairing wine with food is not at all a black and white undertaking.  Pinot Noir can be particularly difficult, I find, because it is so relatively delicate and variable from vintage to vintage.  Hopefully this experience with a broad but compact matrix of examples will help in the future.

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