January 19, 2018
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Chardonnay and Roast Pork Loin

By: Jeff James
December 15, 2017

While last month’s column featured a Pork Tenderloin recipe which we paired with Pinot Noir, this month I have been provided with a Pork Loin recipe. First, let’s explore the difference between these two cuts of meat, then we’ll discuss pairing Chardonnay with the Roast Loin. Pork Tenderloin is a very lean cut of pork which is typically much smaller than the Pork Loin. A single cut of Pork Loin can weigh in at several pounds and will typically have a nice, relatively thin layer of fat over one side of it. This surface fat and a higher incidence of intramuscular fat in the Loin provide for the flavor and textural differences between the two cuts. This month’s recipe adds some warm and seasonally fitting flavors to the meat, which will be nicely complimented by the right wine. 

Chardonnay is our region’s most widely planted wine grape varietal and it has enjoyed that position atop the leader board for several decades. This popularity has led to a very wide range of Chardonnay styles being produced and various camps of Chardonnay drinkers which all declare their favorite style to be superior. You may hear terms such as butter, oak, crisp, tart, floral, citrus, vanilla, stone fruit, honey, marshmallow and many others used to describe the flavors and aromas of various iterations of wines made with this versatile grape.

Chardonnay grapes are the backbone of the long-appreciated white wines from the Burgundy region of France. They have also been successfully cultivated and vinified in many other parts of the world including, of course, California. Indeed, some of the finest versions in the world come from right here in Sonoma County – including much of the fruit that was in the Chateau Montelena 1973 Chardonnay which was judged as superior to all of the French offerings in the now famous Paris Tasting in 1976. This surprise victory helped to propel California wines to prominence on the world stage. Our local examples are typically more full-bodied than the offerings from France, but as I referenced earlier, there is such a wide range of styles available from our local vintners that you can almost find a style to pair with most any meal. I would recommend a more balanced style of local Chardonnay for this month’s recipe in order to enhance the warm flavors provided by the garlic, rosemary and Dijon mustard and you’ll want enough acidity to stand up to the very moderate fattiness of the Pork Loin and enough structure and mouthfeel to enhance the mild meatiness of the dish.

I invite you to fend off the winter chill with the warmth and aromas from roasting a delicious Pork Loin and warm your heart and mood by sharing the meal and a bottle of high quality local Chardonnay with family and friends this holiday season. Cheers! 

Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at or