Brought to you by Unwined | Story by Brian Acton
Every wine professional is inundated with questions about Thanksgiving pairings this time of year. Honestly, the Thanksgiving plate is so diverse that you can, for the most part, drink what you like. There are certain wine and food pairings that are obvious clashes though, like raw oysters and Cabernet Sauvignon or a bold tannic red with your delicate turkey, bitter brussels sprouts and sweet potato casserole. Champagne is one of the most flexible choices. Outside of Champagne, another flexible pairing wine is Riesling. Given that this is also an American holiday, I couldn’t recommend the 2019 Hermann J. Wiemer “HJW Vineyard” Riesling more.
Hermann Wiemer found himself in New York's Finger Lakes in the 1960s, having grown up in Germany's Mosel Valley and after having interned in the Pfalz, along Germany’s border with Alsace, France. His mother's family had been vine growers in the Mosel for generations and his father worked at the leading Agricultural Experiment Station in Bernkastel. Here, Hermann learned to graft vinifera vines to American rootstock by hand. This proved crucial in the Finger Lakes, which experiences winter freezes that can threaten this vulnerable graft. By 1973, Hermann planted a nursery on the property he purchased the previous year. By 1981, he hauled in his first harvest, having been serendipitously let go from his previous gig. The nursery continues to this day, with an annual output of more than 300,000 vines, which truly sets their operations apart from others across the nation. Fred Merwarth, current winemaker and co-owner, joined the fray in 2001 and became Hermann's sole assistant after the previous winemaker left later that year.
Fred has worked at Wiemer ever since, albeit, with a unique level of devotion and meticulousness—the sort of which lands you on various tastemaker, top winery and winemaker of the year lists. Herbicides were eliminated in 2003, in favor of cover crops and organic fertilizers. Fred and his business partner, Oskar Bynke, took over the estate after Hermann's retirement in 2007. Biodynamic viticulture trials began in 2015—no small feat in a region with a climate like the Finger Lakes. The winery is on the cusp of certification from the biodynamic certification body, Demeter. What sets these wines apart from others in the Finger Lakes, though, especially their Rieslings, is their purity of fruit and balance. Nowhere is that more evident than in their HJW Vineyard Riesling.
The HJW vineyard is set back from and resides at 700 meters above Seneca Lake. It is home to Hermann’s original plantings of Chardonnay and Riesling, dating back to 1977 and 1978. The site’s shallow soil leaves the shale bedrock exposed. When the poor soils are coupled with the site’s cooler exposition, you have the elements of a world-class Riesling in the making—all the fruit the warm summers of the Finger Lakes can give you, framed by the stony minerality that is the hallmark of cool climate winemaking. The 2019 HJW Vineyard Riesling is brimming with ripe tree and stone fruit aromas, offset by white flowers—pear schnapps meets ripe apricots and honeysuckle. The palate is juicy, but firms up on the stony, nervy finish. It is just the thing to match the intensity of your fall flavors and then whisk them away with its mouthwatering acidity, leaving you ready for the next bite.
As the holidays approach, a wonderful pairing for the 2019 Herman J. Weimer HJW Vineyard Riesling is a spiced maple glazed pork tenderloin, served with roasted Brussels sprouts and apples and sweet potato mash. The wine's vibrant acidity and fruity notes will harmonize with the sweetness of the maple-glazed pork and the natural sweetness of the apples. It's floral and aromatic characteristics will also enhance the thyme seasoning in this dish. The roasted Brussels sprouts provide a savory element that complements the wine's acidity, while the cream sweet potato mash adds a velvety texture and a touch of sweetness that balances the wine's crispness.
Spiced Maple Pork Tenderloin w/ Roasted Brussels Sprouts + Apples and Sweet Potato Mash
- 2 lbs pork loin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 2 apples, cored and sliced
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- Fresh parsley, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, dried thyme, salt, and pepper.
3. Place the pork loin on the prepared baking sheet and brush it generously with the mustard-maple glaze.
4. In a separate bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts and apple slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange them on the baking sheet around the pork loin.
5. Roast in the preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes, or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) and the Brussels sprouts are tender.
6. While the pork is roasting, place the sweet potato cubes in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.
7. Add butter, milk, salt, and pepper to the pot with the sweet potatoes. Mash until smooth and creamy.
8. Once the pork is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing.
9. Serve the sliced pork loin alongside the roasted Brussels sprouts, apple slices, and sweet potato mash. Garnish with fresh parsley.