Wine Talk: Pairing pork & Riesling
A great dry Riesling vintage after vintage comes from Trefethen Vineyards. The 2013 Riesling from Napa is no different – and is a very good wine.
I have an 11 year relationship with this winery and they seem to always hit the right mark. Trefethen winery was constructed in 1886 by a Scottish sea captain, Hamden McIntyre, and the winery was originally Eshcol.
McIntyre designed it as a gravity-flow system: a horse-drawn winch which brought grapes to the third floor of the three-story structure for crushing: gravity carried the juice to the second floor for fermenting: and, eventually, the wine descended to the first floor for aging.
Eshcol was among a number of wineries McIntyre designed during the period; the others being Greystone (now The Culinary Institute of America), Far Niente and Inglenook.
During the last quarter of the 19th Century, Napa Valley was a thriving viticultural community with nearly 140 wineries. However, in the late 1890s, phylloxera, a root louse that destroys grapevines, brought wine production in Napa to a crashing halt. Growers soon recovered with re-planted vines, but in 1920, Prohibition arrived, driving a stake through the heart of the wine business.
The old Eshcol facility survived by making sacramental wines, but by 1940 the operation was dormant. When the Trefethen family purchased the property in 1968, the winery had fallen into serious disrepair.
John and Janet Trefethen committed themselves to restoring the building to its former glory. They carefully researched the winery's past and worked for years to restore it. Aside from replacing the dirt floor on the first level with concrete, they made no significant structural changes.
Their restoration efforts were recognized in 1988 by the department of the Interior, which placed the winery on the National Register of Historic Places as the only 19th-century, wooden, gravity-flow winery surviving in Napa County.
Today, Trefethen boasts a state-of-the-art fermentation facility and 13,000 square foot barrel cellar, but the McIntyre remains integral to the winery's operations.
The first floor is still used to age wine and also houses the winery's Estate tasting room and wine library. The second floor, which displays the Eshcol winery's original de-stemmer/crusher, is a barrel-aging cellar for the winery's Bordeaux variety wines.
It was never clear how the Trefethen's adventure was going to turn out in the late 60's the family started to grow grapes in Napa Valley, there was no one to show them the way. There was plenty of advice, to be sure, but in truth no one had started a successful Napa vineyard since Prohibition. There were, in a word, crazy.
Their lunacy was infectious, however, and a few other enterprising souls joined the gambit: Tony Baldini, their first viticulturist; David Whitehouse, the first "real winemaker; Richard DeGarmo, Mr. fix-it; Mary Ware, queen of the office and everyone's schedule. They are all considered family. A shared passion brought them to the Trefethen's, they where received with open arms.
They settled into their respective posts, not as hired hands, but as equals in a shared endeavor. The land focuses their energies, as it always has, challenging them to understand its soils, the vines that grow in them, and the way fog drifts through the rows in the morning.
A quote you will always here around the winery and publications "One family. One Estate. One Passion. This is who we are."
The Trefethen 2013 Riesling captivates with aromas of orange blossom and lime zest. Smiles will be invoked with the lush and tropical palate with highlight of golden delicious apple and dried apricots. Fresh and flavorful, the wine is fermented in stainless steel to preserve its singular varietal character.
This wine can be found on Chop239 wine list for $11 a glass and $44 a bottle. Pair this beauty with the Chop239 pork chop with a blackberry demi sauce. Enjoy and Salute.
Marco Porto is owner of chop239 and is a wine connoisseur. Along with Laura Owen of CJ's on the Bay and Adamo Serravalle of Marco Prime and DaVinci's, he is a regular contributor to this column.