The pork chops were cooking and decided to try two different varietals for a food pairing. A bit different, but wanted see which paired better. Both were Hunter Glenn wines, one a 2017 Chardonnay and the other a 2016 Syrah.
To start out who is Hunter Glenn? It is a sister/brother duo of Caroline Shifflett and Jeffrey Shifflett, Jr. The name came about as Caroline’s middle name is Hunt and Jeffrey is Glenn. Changing the name to Hunter made more sense than “Hunt Glenn”!! The family has a long history in Napa Valley. It started in 1942 with the purchase of 120 acres in the foothills of the Mayacamas Range. Originally used for farming and later for cattle grazing, but in the late 1970’s they planted 60 acres of grapes. In 1981 the first Chardonnay was planted and from that point albeit with a few bumps in the road like Phylloxera, Pierce’s Disease and weather variables, they have endured to produce some outstanding wines over the last 30 years.
So the first wine to taste with the pork chop (and various side dishes) was the 2017 Chardonnay. First the wine was a light glistening, clear and bright straw color. On the nose Bartlett pears was the dominate trait with a floral note of jasmine. On the palate, the pear moved to the background and apples and a slight lemon citrus peaked with each sip. The wine was aged 9 months on 25% new French oak with 50% going through malolactic fermentation. The grapes so crisp, the secondary malolactic fermentation did not allow it to be “butter ball Chardonnay”. It added just the right dimension of roundness to this clean Chardonnay. The finish was mild and enjoyable. With a neutral white meat, the wine pairing was spot on! The grapes for this came from Russian River in Sonoma, the Starscape Vineyard. This is their only non-Napa wine produced.
Not to be content with only having to taste pork chops with Chardonnay, we moved on to Hunter Glenn Syrah. Perhaps a bit different, but believe one should always experiment with food and wine pairings. For this we took the simply prepared pork chop and coated it with apricot, mango and roasted chipotle sauce. This imparted the pork chop a spicy and a bit smoky characteristics. Now tasting the pork chop with the 2016 Hunter Glenn Syrah proved a most wonderful marriage. The deep dark coloring which had a cherry, smoky, coffee and blackberry quality with mild tannins help calm the heat of the chipotle. The Syrah is aged 21 months on 25% new French oak barrels. The sweet qualities of both the mango sauce and fruit qualities of the wine were contrasted with the gravely and earthiness of the Syrah. The finish on the wine was mostly dry and provided a full body on the palate.
So in the end, pork being a “neutral white meat” the wine paired with it appears to be more based on the seasoning of the pork and how it is prepared. Both wines worked extremely well, Hunter Glenn Chardonnay with no sauce and Hunter Glenn Syrah with the apricot, mango and roasted chipotle sauce.
Previously I had not tasted Hunter Glenn wines and will be looking forward to tasting their new release of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon in the fall of 2020.