One of the things I always like to do when I can, is save special bottles that are given to me and open them with the givers. I had been saving a bottle of the 1998 Solaia to drink with our dear friends Heidi and Angel Diaz, who gave me the bottle for my birthday several years ago. Recently, we got to re-gift it to them. (It’s the best kind of re-gifting!) Of course, the Solaia wasn’t the only wine we tasted that night.
The main course for dinner that evening was Italian inspired and something of my own creation. It has been named by some friends of ours “Bacon on Bacon”. It is essentially a prosciutto wrapped pork tenderloin and is fairly simple to make (see recipe below!).
With Italy being the main theme, we started the evening off with white burgundy, then a dry rose, followed by the Solaia, a Flaccinello and a Crongnolo.
2011 Olivier Leflaive – Bourgogne Les Setilles, France – Very bright lemon mineral nose. Strong lemony stony fruit that is very clean with bright acids. This just makes your taste buds sing in the mouth on the nice medium length finish. I really liked the 2010 version of this wine, but I think the 2011 beats it. This wine is young, vibrant and could age if you can keep from drinking it. (90 pts.)
2013 Julia’s Dazzle – Pinot Grigio Rose, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington – Bright copper color, with sweet/tart fruit nose. In the mouth, the wine is slightly off-dry as the sweet melon and strawberry fruit comes through with decent acidity. The wine finishes with a sweet strawberry note on the clean, but slightly short finish. I liked last years 2012 vintage slightly better, because it had higher acidity and a longer finish, so it didn’t come across as quite as sweet as the 2013 does. I also noticed that on the 2012 bottle, it stated on the back label that the wine was made by the Long Shadows Winery in Walla Walla Washington. On the 2013 bottle, the name of Long Shadows isn’t on the bottle, but on the back label in really tiny print it says the wine is produced by Dolan & Weiss Cellars. I am not sure what happened or what the difference is. Maybe the wine was being made in partnership or it was sold or something. Anyway, it was my first rose of the year and will be a good wine for the summer. (88pts.)
1998 Marchesi Antinori – Solaia, Italy – Beautiful nose of dark black fruit and baking spices. In the mouth deep dark red and black fruit, baking spices, burnished wood and a hint of tobacco. There are still some tannins, but they are fine-grained and unobtrusive. The beautiful sweet dark fruit and spice carries through to a nice long, slightly tannic finish. This wine is still young and only at the beginning of the maturity plateau. There isn’t any rush to drink these. Well stored bottles will continue to improve for another decade. This is a wonderful wine. (95 pts.)
2001 Fontodi – Flaccianello Della Pieve, Italy – Dark red and black fruit with a little spice and a freshness on the nose. In the mouth, sweet dark red and black fruit, spices and a damp earthy aspect (but in a good way). Very good acidity makes this wine lively in the mouth. Nice sweet dark fruit and spice on the long still slightly tannic finish. This wine still has some slight tannins to shed, but it is drinking really well right now and has a good decade or more of life ahead of it. Flaccianello is a benchmark wine for what Sangiovese can achieve. This is a beautiful wine. (94 pts.)
2007 Tenuta Sette Ponti – Crognolo, Italy – Sweet dark blackberries and red pie cherries on the nose. In the mouth, the black fruit and red pie cherries combine with a slight bit of coffee and very good acidity. The wine is still young, with tannin to shed, but the sweet dark berry fruit comes through on the medium finish. Given time, I am sure there will be more secondary nuances that will come through. This is a nice Italian wine to pop and pour. (91 pts.)
It’s always fun sharing some good wines with our great longtime friends – especially when the evening ends with a rousing game of ping-pong and a little karaoke (sung by the kids, thank goodness!). Here’s my savory pork recipe now – it’s not very precise, but you’ll get the picture:
Bacon on Bacon
Finely chop a bunch of sage and rosemary. Add several heaping tablespoons of country mustard (with the seeds), and mix in the sage and rosemary. Add a fair amount (several tablespoons) of olive oil to make the mustard and herbs not so dry and pasty. Then salt and pepper the tenderloin to taste on one side and spread the mustard/herb mixture over the tenderloin. Spread capers and pine nuts over the tenderloin as well. Now cover the top of the tenderloin with two pieces of prosciutto and spray it with olive oil. You will want to spray the bottom of the dish you are working in as well, otherwise the prosciutto will stick to it. Turn the tenderloin over and repeat the process.
Heat a large oven-proof frying pan and sear the prosciutto and tenderloin on all sides (approx. 2 minutes per side). Once the searing is done, put the tenderloin in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. After 30 minutes, pull the tenderloin out of the oven and remove from the pan to rest for 10 minutes. The tenderloin will continue to cook from the internal heat.
While the tenderloin is resting, add some cheap Madeira to the pan (Full and Rich if they have it, but Rainwater will do), approximately 1 cup. Use the Madeira to deglaze the pan you cooked the tenderloin in, so you are scraping all of the little brown bits off of the bottom. Add one piece of torn up prosciutto to the pan as well. Reduce down the Madeira so you end up with only 1/4 of the liquid, approximately 10 minutes. Cut up your tenderloin, put it on the plates and then spoon some of the Madeira sauce over the tenderloin and serve. I prefer to use Madeira over red wine; because it has a much higher acidity that works well with the oil/salt content of the prosciutto.