Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Fire Road 2010 Pinot Noir

A tricky pairing.

Earlier this month I reviewed the Fire Road 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. It was a very easy to drink white wine. This weekend I opened a bottle of the Fire Road 2010 Pinot Noir. This however, was a difficult red wine for me to understand at first. With some effort, I finally reached understanding and even pleasure from this wine. Not every wine or food pairing is easy.

Steak was not the key to understanding this wine.

Fail #1.
On opening, this was a tart wine. It had a smoky, meaty nose, with chalk and cherry. The tartness followed into the finish with cherry. It had a bright ruby color. While I did not find a lot to like at first taste, I've learned never to judge a wine alone. Judge it with food too.My first pairing was with an evening steak. The steak was grilled to perfection, tender, juicy and tasty. The wine and steak did not get along. At this point I put the remainder of the bottle in the fridge.

Fail #2.
On the second day, I was busy writing and tweaking this blog. So busy, I forgot to put the ribs on the grill. My wife came to the rescue and ordered a pizza and chicken bites. Hey, two new opportunities to pair this wine with food. My pizza had Italian sausage, mushrooms and onion. Not a bad pairing with the Fire Road Pinot Noir, but not that good either.

The secret was the sauce.
Success! Tasty success!
On a whim, I tried the chicken bites with the included Sweet Mango Habanero dipping sauce. Hello! This Pinot Noir with the chicken bites and Sweet Mango Habanero sauce were made for each other. Bingo! I found the perfect pairing for this wine. The sweet, spicy, heat, flavors of cumin, chili pepper and sweet mango, ran along the middle of my tongue, and the Fire Road Pinot Noir matched it perfectly. Oh, what a wonderful melding of sweet, heat and New Zealand Pinot Noir. I actually enjoyed this wine, with the chicken bites and that lovely Sweet Mango Habanero dipping sauce. Someone needs to start selling that sauce. I'm recommending this wine, on the condition, that you pair it with that Sweet Mango Habanero dipping sauce, or an equivalent if you can find it. That was good. Conditionally recommended.

ABV: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Paid: $16.99
Winemaker: Alana McGettigan, Bsc

Imported by: Winesellers Ltd. Niles, Illinois www.winesellersltd.com

The name “Fire Road” is a tribute to the residents of Blenheim, who together, fought to save their vineyards and homes from a raging blaze in 2000.

Alana McGettigan has worked in the wine industry since 2002 with winemaking experience in Australia, New Zealand and Italy. Alana graduated from Otago University with a BSc in biochemistry and genetics in 2000 and went on to complete a Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University in 2001. Alana joined Kiwi Oeno in 2005 as a winemaker and fits in two vintages every year, returning to Italy in September each year to work the harvest in Northern Italy and Southern France. Source: http://www.kowine.co.nz/people.aspx#Alana

That was an interesting wine and an even more interesting food pairing. Your thoughts and suggestions are appreciated.


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