Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

2008 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc with Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Root Vegetables

14 Mar

It’s Sunday again, and although the CorkPopper Project was temporarily derailed this month, I haven’t stopped drinking or cooking.  My regular readers may recall that a 2006 Nautilus Pinot Noir was the winning wine of Week 4.  Well, while shopping this afternoon at Whole Foods, J and I came across a Sauvignon Blanc from the same New Zealand winery (located in the famous Marlborough region) and decided to give it a shot.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc tends to be nicely crisp and more on the fruity side (as opposed to, for example, a French Sancerre, which is also made from Sauvignon Blanc but is more likely to have more minerality on the palate).  And the Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc was exactly what I expected – lots of juicy pear and citrus notes with a long, pleasant finish of Meyer lemon.  In other words, the perfect accompaniment for one of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes….

Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Root Vegetables.

Serves 4


  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 pound pork tenderloin
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut into wedges
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes (I used red potatoes, but you can use whichever variety you like), peeled a cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large brown onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the garlic, thyme, and a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper in a food processor.  Pulse to chop.  Add the mustard and pulse again to combine.

Season the pork tenderloin with additional salt and pepper and then coat with the mustard mixture.  Allow to sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, place all the vegetables in a roasting pan.  Drizzle with some olive oil and the melted butter and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes.

Pull the vegetables out of the oven after 30 minutes of roasting and toss with a spoon to recoat with the oil and butter.  Place the pork on top of the vegetables and place the roasting pan back in the oven.  Roast for another 30-45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat measures 138 degrees.  Place the pork on a platter and cover with foil.  Return the vegetables to the oven while the pork rests for about 15 minutes.

Cut the pork into thick slices and place on a platter with the vegetables.  Serve with crusty grilled bread (of course) and a simple green salad.

The stone fruit and acidity in the Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc paired wonderfully with the juicy pork and especially with the roasted fennel.  Yum….



Week 4: What to Cook with the Nautilus Pinot Noir

27 Sep

If you’ve read my reviews of this week’s New Zealand Pinot Noirs (Sherwood Estates, Nautilus and Momo), it should be no surprise that the Nautilus came out on top.  But what should you cook with this wine, you ask?  Easy.  Perfectly grilled steak with sauteed wild mushrooms.

A nice portion of your favorite cut of beef (filet or New York are my faves)
1 lb. wild mushrooms (I’m a big fan of shitake and oyster), cleaned and sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tblsp. unsalted butter
Nautilus Pinot Noir
Good salt and fresh ground pepper

Season the steak generously on both sides and set aside.  Heat the grill to medium-high heat.  Grill the steak to taste (I prefer medium-rare).

Heat the butter in a non-stick pan.  Lightly saute the garlic and shallot and then add the mushrooms, stirring often so that they all cook down.  Just before the mushrooms are cooked to your liking, add a splash of Brandy and a splash of the Pinot Noir.  Tip the pan toward the flame so that the liquid is near the edge of the pan.  The flame will ignite the alcohol fumes, and, voila!  You have a flambe!  The alcohol will cook off, leaving a nice warm flavor to compliment the wine.

To plate, spoon the mushrooms over the steak.  Serve with a simple salad of greens with a balsamic vinaigrette and some crusty grilled bread…  YUMMMM!!



2007 Momo Pinot Noir

26 Sep

Well, this is it folks.  The final New Zealand Pinot Noir.  And while it’s been fun and interesting, I have to say that I wasn’t really wowed, and I’m certainly ready to move on to something new and different.  J and I headed down to Laguna Beach yesterday evening, where his mother and grandmother (and his grandmother’s gentleman friend) were spending a few days, and we decided to take the Momo with us.  We drank it with a nice little dinner of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus and mushrooms, and, though it wasn’t a bad wine, there wasn’t anything particularly amazing about it either (which, unfortunately, has seemed to be the theme of the past couple of weeks).

The wine had a lot of dark and red fruit on the nose, along with a bit of anise, all of which were mirrored in the taste.  But, once again, when you can easily find much more interesting and truly enjoyable wines for so much less money, it’s really hard for me to recommend a wine as “so-so” as this one.

2 corks popped….

Oh well.  I guess it’s just time to go to Chile!



2006 Sherwood Estates Pinot Noir

23 Sep

J and I tasted the Sherwood Estates Pinot Noir last night, and I think I can safely say that neither of us were blown away. We were snacking on some delicious St. Simeon cheese with crackers trying to figure out what to order for dinner (some nights you just can’t muster the energy to cook, you know?), and I poured us both a glass. The nose was a bit musty at first, so we decided to let it breathe a bit. Even after breathing for a while, however, the smell lingered. It was a bit like old worn and dusty leather that had been sitting in an old barn for a while, which came across in the mouth as well. This didn’t exactly ruin the taste, but it didn’t really do wonders for it either. There was a surprising amount of black and red fruit given the aroma but not quite enough pepper for my taste, especially given the long finish, which brought full circle that mustiness present in the nose.

While this wine was a horrible pairing with the St. Simeon cheese, it actually improved with the arrival of our Indian food (lamb vindaloo, chicken tikka masala, rice, and garlic and onion naan). The strong flavors and spice in the lamb and chicken dishes were complimented by the ripe fruit in the wine, and the food definitely helped to mellow out the somewhat funky aftertaste.
All in all, this wine wasn’t horrible, but I also wouldn’t really recommend it, especially given the $19.99/bottle price tag. There are definitely better Pinot Noirs out there for less. And don’t worry…. I’ll find them!
2 corks popped here!!
In the event you’d like to try the Sherwood Estates yourself, it’s available at Gary’s Wine and Marketplace.


Week 4: New Zealand Pinot Noir

21 Sep

As with the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, I’m doing two weeks of New Zealand Pinot Noir because (1) I love it and (2) there are so many great wines available. So, without further adieu, here (in no particular order) is the list of this week’s wines…. All three are available at Gary’s Wine & Marketplace.

First is the 2006 Momo, which is available for $19.99/bottle and is rated 90 points by Wine Spectator.

Second is the 2006 Sherwood Estates, which is also available for $19.99/bottle and is rated 87 points by Wine Spectator.

Finally, is the 2006 Nautilus, which is $24.99/bottle and was rated 87 points by Robert Parker.

So there it is! I’ve never tried any of these wines and am definitely looking forward to it.



Week 3: The Results Are In!

20 Sep

Though, once again this week’s wines were all solid, there was definitely a clear winner (from my perspective at least).

First, Brancott’s 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir, which was rated 91 points by Wine & Spirits and is available on for $19.99/bottle. I tasted the Brancott first with a mid-week dinner of penne pasta with Italian sausage, sauteed onions, roasted red peppers, basil pesto and goat cheese. The wine was decent with fairly characteristic red fruit on the nose and palate but was fairly unremarkable and wasn’t able to really stand up to the strong flavors of my pasta. I tend to like my Pinot Noir to have a bit more black pepper and spice.

2.5 corks popped…

Second, Saint Clair’s 2007 Pinot Noir, which garnered 88 points from Wine Spectator and 89 points from Wine & Spirits. This is available from for $16.99/bottle. J and I drank this while I prepared a delicious pizza inspired by one I had in Capri while living in Italy. It’s a white pizza (meaning you use bechamel sauce instead of tomato sauce) with spicy Italian sausage, onions, pepperoncini (those greenish-yellowish pepper you can get in a jar, usually on the grocery store aisle with the olives), red pepper and fresh mozzarella. This pizza is seriously to die for. And the Saint Clair actually stood up to it very well. With more spice than the Brancott and a significantly longer finish and more well-rounded mouthfeel, J and I both loved pretty much everything about this wine.

3.5 corks popped!!

Finally, 2007 Pencarrow Pinot Noir, which was rated 90 points on and is available for $15.99/bottle. When we first poured this wine, I got a REALLY strong aroma of rubber, sort of like the eraser on the end of a #2 pencil. This, naturally, turned J and me off a bit. That said, we allowed it to breathe for a while, and the smell (and the accompanying flavor) of rubber definitely diminished. I also gave it a second shot today as I wrote this. I used one of those aerator things that you stick into the top of the bottle, and, thought it did help, it’s still not as good as the Saint Clair. In short, though the Pencarrow turned out to be fairly enjoyable, I don’t know that I’d every actually recommend this one just because of the rubber smell/flavor issue up front.

1.5 corks popped…

So, what are we cooking to pair with the Saint Clair (this week’s clear winner)? We’re grilling a rack of lamb (Trader Joe’s has really affordable and delicious rack of lamb) that we’re rubbing with olive oil, salt, pepper and a bit of nutmeg. We’ll be accompanying it with a basic baby arugula salad with a balsamic vinaigrette and some grilled bread. Easy and sure to be delicious….


Check out the CorkPopper Calendar to see where I’ve been and where I’m headed.

UPDATE: Check out how the rack of lamb turned out… yummmmmmm……


Week 3: New Zealand Pinot Noir

14 Sep

Here it is… the Week 3 lineup… I haven’t had the pleasure of trying any of these three, so I’m definitely looking forward to this week.

You may recognize two of this week’s wineries – Brancott and Saint Clair – from the past couple of weeks when I reviewed their Sauvignon Blancs. Both wineries also had top-rated Pinot Noir, so I thought it could be fun to see how they do with this finicky red grape…

First, Brancott’s 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir, which was rated 91 points by Wine & Spirits and is available on for $19.99/bottle.

Second, Saint Clair’s 2007 Pinot Noir, which garnered 88 points from Wine Spectator and 89 points from Wine & Spirits. This is available from for $16.99/bottle.

Finally, 2007 Pencarrow Pinot Noir, which was rated 90 points on and is available for $15.99/bottle.

Looking forward to it!


Check out the CorkPopper calendar here to see where I’ve been and where I’m going…


Week 2: What to Eat with the Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc

13 Sep

Although, as I mentioned previously, it’s going to be hard to top grilled lobster as a pairing for the Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc, I think J and I have come up with a pretty awesome Sunday dinner for this wine…. Grilled Chicken Breast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato.

Now, I’m not generally a big fan of chicken. I think it takes way too much work to make it taste good, and it’s often dry and just not that interesting. That said, J is pretty much a master at preparing chicken in such a way that it remains juicy and flavorful, so I’m definitely coming around on the chicken front. And when the plan is to stuff a chicken breast with deliciously creamy goat cheese, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, and lemony fresh basil, I’m sold.

I know this dish sounds complicated, but it’s honestly not. Check it out…

1 full chicken breast, skin on, sliced
6 oz goat cheese
3 tblsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tblsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

Saute the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and shallots in a bit of olive oil until the flavors combine. Fold into the goat cheese along with most of the basil and some salt and pepper to taste.

Cut a slit into the fattest part of the chicken breast to create a pocket for the cheese mixture. Stuff the cheese mixture into the pocket you’ve cut into the chicken breast. Seal the open edges with toothpicks. Rub the outside of the chicken breast with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. Allow the chicken to sit for about 15 minutes.

Put the chicken on the grill on high heat and sear for 2 minutes on each side. Turn heat down to low. Grill about 10 minutes on each side.

Sprinkle with the rest of the fresh basil and serve with grilled bread and a simple green salad with a light vinaigrette.

The juiciness of the chicken and the creamy consistency of the goat cheese filling go perfectly with this light, yet fully balanced wine.




Week 2: The Results Are In!

10 Sep

Given that all three of this week’s wines come from the same region and were produced in the same year, I thought it would be much harder to pick a clear favorite than it was last week. Not so. While all three wines were generally tasty, especially on warm evenings such as we’ve been having here in LA lately, one wine was clearly better than the other two. Which one, you ask? Well, let me tell you a little about each of them before I get there!

First, (and these are in no particular order) is the Brancott Reserve, which J and I drank as we both got a little work done on Monday afternoon after getting back from Kauai (you know, cleaning out the email inbox after a vacation and creating a to-do list with all the stuff that has piled up on you while you were away). The wine was definitely solid but lacked any really remarkable characteristics. It’s got a lot of citrus, as one would expect, with a nice, light aroma, as one would expect. In fact, come to think of it, this wine is exactly that – what you expect. Not that being predictable is necessarily a bad thing when it comes to wine. Sometimes you don’t feel like being adventurous and just want a solid New Zealand Sauv Blanc. Well, here you go. And at $12.99, it won’t break the bank, either.

3 corks popped…
Next, is the Kim Crawford, which I actually had on my own because I already knew J wasn’t a fan. Both the aroma and initial taste of this wine contain a bit of green bell pepper, which J despises. Although this isn’t a “bad” wine, there are definitely better ones out there, especially at $18.79/bottle. I swear I remember when Kim Crawford was around $12/bottle…. crazy.

1.5 corks popped…

Finally, the Craggy Range…. While I know that $17.99/bottle doesn’t seem like much of a bargain, J and I both agreed that this wine was not only the best wine of the week, but probably the best of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs we’ve tried during the past two weeks. It’s really well balanced, with plenty of floral (though not sweet) notes to stand up to the acidity that so often dominates New Zealand Sauv Blancs. The finish was also great; the fruit seemed to linger on the taste buds forever.

4 corks popped!!

The meal J and I drank the Craggy Range with was a bit random but absolutely delicious (and remarkably good with the wine). As we walked through the grocery store trying to figure out what we wanted to eat, we saw artichokes, sweet white corn on the cob, and lobster tails, so we decided to grill all of it (along with some bread, of course). Not the most congruent meal, but man was it tasty! The warm juiciness of the lobster was absolutely perfect with the cool citrus and honeydew flavors in the wine, and I honestly can’t think of anything I’d rather have with this wine on Sunday when we drink the other bottle (though I’ll probably try given that each of our 5 oz. lobster tails cost $11.99… not exactly a budget item, I know, but sometimes it’s worth it to splurge).

Grilled lobster was remarkably easy to prepare. We just rubbed the tails with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled them with sea salt and some fresh ground pepper before wrapping them up in aluminum foil and putting them on the grill at medium-high heat. They only take a few minutes, so be sure to keep your eye on them. Once the shell turns bright red and the meat looks white (rather than slightly translucent), it’s done. Lobster gets tough when it’s overdone, which is never good (especially given that lobster isn’t exactly cheap), so err on the side of undercooking it. You can always throw it back on the barbie for a minute. Once it’s cooked, just cut the underside of the tail with some kitchen scissors and pull out that delicious meat. Serve with drawn butter.
If we come up with an even more perfect meal for the Craggy Range than this, I’ll definitely let you know….


To see where I’ve been and where I’m going next, check out the CorkPopper calendar here.


Week 2: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

08 Sep

No, it’s not a typo. I’m doing two weeks of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (there are just too many good ones available at such great prices right now!). Plus, it’s still warm out, and there’s nothing better than a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc on a warm evening… you know I’m right…

Anyhoo, the three contenders for the week are:

1) 2008 Craggy Range. This was $17.99 from and was rated 93 points by Wine & Spirits.

2) 2008 Kim Crawford. It was given 91 points by Wine Spectator and 90 points by Wine Enthusiast (and it’s one of LF’s (formerly LT) favorites). It’s $18.79 from

3) 2008 Brancott Reserve, which was given 92 points by Wine Spectator and can be found on for $12.99.


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