It has been a busy couple of months for wine writing and writing about wine writing. (Not to mention writing about people who write about wine writing, too). And lots of meetings and conferences, notices of upcoming meetings and conferences, east-coast wine shows, and the like. Like every other part of the mainstream media, there’s a lot of talk about the impact of the internet on wine writing. With an annual wine blogging conference coming up soon, one of the questions out there is whether blogs, facebook and twitter really challenge the supremacy of the big-name wine critics, wine magazines, or the annual wine guides.
I’m still trying to sort all of that out, so I’ll save it for another blog post. Frankly, as someone in the wine biz, I’m delighted if anyone writes about the wines we import. Blogs, newspapers, magazines, it’s all good! But very little in my short wino career has matched the thrill of having Robert Parker give scores of 90+ to our wines. Even more so because I had no idea he had even tasted them. Some of my French producers have asked me to send Parker samples for review over the last year. But Parker went to Domaine Fond Croze on his own and wrote about it in his October 2009 Wine Advocate. And Bruno Long, the winemaker, gave Parker First Vine’s website as the address of his U.S. importer. As soon as the review was published, my e-mail traffic increased.
There’s a lot of talk about what writers perceive as Robert Parker’s negative influence on the wine industry. Because he is so popular, the theory goes that winemakers have changed their product to reflect his taste, a homogenization resulting in bigger, stronger wines, to the exclusion of subtleties and character. Whether you agree or not, he tells you what he likes and why (and believe me, every wine writer has a point of view). I think of him in a way as the ultimate blogger, someone who started a small self-published newsletter many years ago. He took a passion, developed a way to talk about it that people liked and understood, and built a following. It may be that the slower pace of the times meant that people paid more attention to the newsletter than they might to a wine blogger today, but I have no doubt that he’s also responsible for raising the profile of wine drinking in general. Wine, while essential to many of us, is a luxury to many more – anything that helps people decide to drink wine rather than not is good for business.
And may I say, when he’s right, he’s right! He picked two of our fuller-bodied wines, as you might expect. But hell yes, I was stunned (in a good way) to read that he gave 91 points to the 2007 Fond Croze Cuvée Romanaise ($18), saying “the full-bodied deep ruby/purple-hued Romanaise exhibits lots of smoky black currant and cherry fruit intermarried with hints of licorice, forest floor, and underbrush, a ripe, heady mouthfeel and a succulent, fleshy style. It…can be drunk over the next several years.” In giving 90 points to the Cuvée Shyrus ($20), he wrote that “its opaque purple color is followed by a big, sweet nose of spring flowers, black fruits, lard, roasted herbs, and spice box. Dense, full-bodied, and rich with sweet, silky tannins as well as good acidity and freshness, this 2007 should drink nicely for 5-6 years.”
So pinch me! The only person happier than I am about this is Bruno Long, who broke all speed records getting me those wines – along with his 2007 Cuvée Confidence Red ($13). And speaking of speed, you can serve any of these wines with this week’s recipe, a tribute to our northern neighbor and host of these, the games of the 2010 Winter Olympiad. (Don’t you love the pretentiousness of the way sportscasters say that?). Pork Chops with Onions, Apples, and Maple Syrup is an amalgam of a bunch of different recipes, picking the things I like best. Make it for a great easy meal (maybe for the closing ceremonies), and raise a glass to a little slice of the good life.
PS: Be sure to check out our Sale Page. We’re now in the second year of our Winter White Sale (if department stores can do it, so can we!) plus there are special prices on our 2004 and 2005 Fond Croze wines. Try them with the 2007s and see how the wines mature – a great thing to do if we get another one of those record snowfalls!
Pork Chops with Onions, Apples, and Maple Syrup
4 double-thick pork chops, with or without the bone (about a half-pound each)
Salt and Pepper
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 large pinch dried red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons butter
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, cored, then each quarter cut into 4 slices
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup real maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large nonstick pan, heat a tablespoon of butter and add the onions, rosemary, a little salt, and the red pepper flakes. Cook until the onions are soft and just beginning to brown.
Remove the onions from the skillet, melt two more tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until the foam subsides. Add the apple slices in a single layer, turning them every five minutes or so, and cooking them over medium-ish heat. Meanwhile, dry the pork chops with paper towels, then salt and pepper them liberally. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat just enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom until it’s about to smoke. Add the pork chops and sear for five minutes on each side without moving them during the searing time. Put the pan with the chops in the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
The apples should begin to brown a little and get soft. Take the chops from the oven and remove them from the skillet to a plate to rest for a few minutes. Cover them loosely with foil, and then pour off the fat from the skillet. Stir the wine and maple syrup together and add them to the skillet, scraping the bottom to remove the browned bits. Stir in the last tablespoon of butter, then add the apples and onions. Heat everything together for a minute. Serve the apple mixture over the pork chops.