Pinot Noir Pairing: Grilled Pork Tenderloin w/ Cherry Reduction Sauce

pork w: sauce

This recipe was created to be a Pinot Noir pairing. More specifically, it was meant to go with Pinot Noirs with a distinct black cherry and darker fruit profiles. Two of the tell-tale fruit notes in Pinot Noir are cherry and raspberry. But what kind of cherry and what kind of raspberry is where you start separating styles, regions and clones. Some cherry notes in Pinot can come across as bing cherry whereas other cherry notes can come across as black cherry, or even black cherry cola.

That slight difference in notes is what ultimately dictates what kind of jam to use to finish the sauce. I picked a black cherry jam from Whole Foods that wasn’t as sweet, but had darker tones. You could go with more of a red cherry jam or raspberry and do well with this dish if you have a Pinot with brighter notes.

The sweetness of the jam combined with the savoriness of the beef/chicken stock will marry up beautifully with the heat from the cayenne and savoriness of the pork. I often use this pairing when teaching wine+food pairing classes.


Some recent Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted lately with a darker cherry thing going on are suggested below. Oregon and Burgundy are well represented as is California’s central coast. The ringer in the group is the gem I came across in Australia’s Yarra Valley.

Mrs B and I were in Oregon during the 2010 harvest and I remember the winemakers being excited about how good the vintage would be. If you aren’t familiar with Oregon, it rains there…a lot. Rain can really mess up a harvest if the grapes haven’t had time to ripen on the vine. Luckily, Mother Nature gave the Willamette Valley a reprieve in 2010. Fruit had time to hang and hang and hang well into October, past the time of year when grapes would already be in fermentation.

Archery Summit’s Cuvée not only represents the quality of fruit in 2010, but their use of oak was just right—this new release already showed impressive fruit/oak integration.

I tasted through the Premier Cuvée and Arcus Estate last night. Drinking a wine too young is one of the hazards of being a wine blogger, and I can tell you I should’ve waited to open the Arcus. It was a fine wine, but it was nowhere near ready. It’s an iconic wine from a great vintage, so it’s definitely one for the cellar. Not sure I can do it justice by trying to describe in its current state.

The Premier Cuvée was closer to being ready after 20 minutes in the Pinot Noir decanter (although it’ll really be singing like a bird in 3-5 years). I got what I was after—it’s a blend of Archery Summit’s 5 vineyards, and right out of the gate dark cherry and black raspberry notes emanated out of the (Oregon Pinot Noir) glass. Perhaps this was the most ideal pairing out of all the wines listed here…it was spot on. Over the course of an hour some exotic spices, black licorice and soy sauce started coming out from behind the dark primary fruits.


While northern California saw a good vintage in 2009, the central coast wasn’t as fortunate. Drought conditions, heavy storms during harvest and low yields challenged winemakers to reach into their bag of tricks. But for the folks who knew what they were doing, there were some terrific wines produced. It’s kinda like surfing a wave—if you keep your balance and can navigate through the pipeline you can come out looking pretty good which is what happened with Domaine Alfred Chamisal Vineyards Pinot Noir.

It’s a little more masculine than I prefer for a Pinot Noir. I’d rather see more of a delicate feminine style with lower alcohol. But for the food pairing, it worked. There was an intense black raspberry and black cherry cola woven together with a thread of cedar and bramble berry.


When I was in Perth, Australia last year I came across this gem at Greenhouse. It’s got “wine geek wine” written all over it. Yarra Valley’s Timo Mayer doesn’t make enough of his Bloody Hill Pinot Noir, but if you can get your hands on it, it’s worth the effort. I imagine this is the wine Darth Vader would drink if he wanted to drink a Pinot Noir. It’s dark for a Pinot Noir, but elegant and loaded with X-Factor.


I wish I could fill a bathtub with this wine and just roll around in it. This is an “OMIGOD” wine—the kind of experience that causes someone at the table to blurt out “OMIGOD this is good!!” That person was me (but not always!).

Rousseau’s 1992 Chambertin Grand Cru rewards those who have been tortured by Burgundy showing off all the facets that we love in the region. If it was a car it would be a black Mercedes C-class sedan. If it were a director is would be Steven Spielberg. If it were a watch it would be a Panerai Luminora.  Style, class, evolution and sophistication all right in the drinking window, although it made be starting to slide a bit.

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