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Wine of the Week: Quivira 2013 Dry Creek Valley Grenache

In a world where everybody is drinking the same top 10 varietal wines, it’s refreshing to find Sonoma County wines that are made from a grape like Grenache. It’s both refreshing and ironic, in fact, because Grenache is one of the top 10 most planted wine grapes in the world.

Grenache got taken down a few notches from second-place since 1990, true, but as of 2010 it was holding its own against  a grape called Trebbiano Toscano. Go, Grenache: there are just over 120 acres of Grenache planted in Sonoma County.

As a grapevine, Grenache looks like a brute—the favorite characterization I’ve ever heard was, “grotesque,” but in a beautiful way—with its pale pink, Biblically proportioned clusters and unruly canes. But as a wine it can be downright cosmopolitan, politely blending with any number of varieties to make a better blend.

Grenache is at its best in regions that offer warmth, but not too much—famously in France’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape region and throughout Spain. The Dry Creek Valley AVA of Sonoma County is another such region, offering plenty of sunlight and daytime warmth, with just the right offset of cool temperatures during ripening and harvest.

Quivira 2013 Dry Creek Valley Grenache ($32)

When you compare this wine to the 2011 from the same vineyard, you realize how the savory characteristics and the bright, red fruit notes of Grenache can be swayed this way or that, in the same region and vineyard, by a little change in the weather. In 2013, the aroma bounds out of the glass, showing plum and black cherry fruit with a trend toward a darker, meaty, musky savor, accented with Malabar peppercorn and scraped barbecue grill—très Grenache, by the way. Rough tannins staple puckery plum, black cherry flavors to the palate, finishing with an impression of a brisk, fun and flavorful alternative red wine.


Roast Pork with Holy Mole Sauce and Mexican Rice

Courtesy of "The Wine Lover Cooks With Wine" cookbook by Sid Goldstein
Serves 6 as an entree

Roast Pork Ingredients:

  •     1 4-pound pork roast, rolled and tied
  •     1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  •     1/3 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
  •     1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  •     1/4 teaspoon ground sage
  •     3 tablespoons olive oil


Mole Ingredients*:

  •     1 1/3 cups sliced yellow onions
  •     1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  •     1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  •     1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •     1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  •     1/2 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted and crushed
  •     1 1/2 tablespoons chopped, seeded pasilla chiles
  •     1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
  •     2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  •     3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  •     1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  •     4 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  •     7 tablespoons raisins
  •     2 1/4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  •     1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  •     1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  •     Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Mexican Rice Ingredients:

  •     1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •     2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  •     2 tablespoons minced shallots
  •     1 cup chopped yellow onions
  •     2 cups basmati rice
  •     2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  •     2 teaspoons ground oregano
  •     1 teaspoon toasted fennel seed
  •     3 cups chicken stock
  •     1 14 -ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
  •     8 ounces feta cheese (tomato -basil), cut into
  •     1/4 cubes
  •     1 cup chopped, roasted, peeled and seeded
  •     peppers (yellow and red bell peppers,
  •     Anaheim chiles)
  •     Garnish - cilantro sprigs and lime slices


Sprinkle pork roast with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin, oregano and sage and rub into roast on all sides.

In a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Place pork roast in pan and lightly brown on all sides, including ends. To brown ends, hold pork roast upright with a large fork. When browned, remove pork from pan and put in a glass baking dish. Reserve oil for mole sauce. Refrigerate pork roast, covered, until ready to cook.

In a preheated 350'F oven, roast pork for 1 1/2 hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165'F. (The roast can also be cooked on a gas grill over indirect medium heat with great results.)

Meanwhile, to make mole, using the same pan that was used for searing the pork, saute onions and garlic over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add sesame seeds, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seed, pasilla chiles, chipotle, and cilantro and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour stock mixture into a food processor or blender. Add peanut butter, tomato paste, raisins, chocolate, and lime juice and process until smooth. Return sauce to pan and simmer, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes. Thin with additional stock, if necessary. Sauce should be fairly thick. Season to taste.

To make Mexican rice, in a medium saute pan or skillet over medium heat, heat butter and oil. Add shallots and onions and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add rice, cumin, oregano, and fennel seed, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed in rice. Stir in feta and peppers, cover, and continue to cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the rice to rest for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork thoroughly prior to serving.

To serve, slice pork and place on plates. Top with mole and serve rice on the side. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime slices.

*NOTES: Pasilla peppers are dried chiles that can be found in most grocery stores. Chipotle in adobo is a fiery Latin condiment made with smoked jalapeno peppers that are pickled in vinegar. It can be found canned in the ethnic foods aisles of many supermarkets. For the chocolate, try to find Mexican unsweetened chocolate available in the gourmet or international sections of many grocery stores.

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