I recently ventured up to Red Mountain to taste some wines, walk some vineyards and see old friends. There are few places in Washington that produce better wine, some say, some of the best in the world. But, for me it's the people. The Williams' family, the Holmes', the Hedges', the Hightower's, the Frichette's, the Pearson's - Red Mountain is the smallest AVA in the state and it feels more like a neighborhood than an appellation.
If Red Mountain had football team Charlie Hoppes would be the head coach. He is the sergeant at arms, the baby whisperer, Charlie Hoppes is the Wine Boss.
Charlie Hoppes is one of the most respected winemakers in Washington State. A Yakima Valley native with a degree from UC Davis he got his start in 1988 working with Mike Januik at Snoqualmie Winery and followed him to Chateau Ste. Michelle in 1990 becoming the head red wine maker until 1999. After stints at Waterbrook in Walla Walla and Three Rivers he started his own winery Fidelitas. In 2007 he purchased his first 3 acres on Red Mountain and built a tasting room.
Did I mention that he has a degree in economics? Instead of taking up prime vineyard land on Red Mt he has a 30,000 sq ft production facility in nearby Richland - "Wine Boss". There he produces his wines plus makes wine for a half dozen clients. The tasting room on Red Mountain has a beautiful panoramic view of the valley.
I first visited Charlie and the tasting room shortly after it was built. Tasting the wines with the "Wine Boss" himself and eating some of the best tacos I have ever had is one of my fondest memories. Charlie is one of the most generous, easy going and intelligent people working in the Washington wine industry. 2017 marks his 30th vintage, and in that time he has made quite a name for himself including being named Seattle Magazines Winemaker of the Year in 2013. His wine continue to garner high ratings from press - his 2012 Ciel du Cheval Cab rated 94 from Parker and the 2013 Quintessence was ranked #4 in Seattle Metropolitan Magazine Top 100. Recently 6 of his 2014 releases received 93 -95 pt scores from the Wine Advocate!
Did I mention every time I go to Red Mountain I end of having tacos? Just thinking about Red Mountain makes me crave Tacos.
So today I give you my simplified recipe for Tacos Al pastor. Paired with some of Charlie Red Mountain Malbec and you have winner!
FIDELITAS MALBEC RED MOUNTAIN 2014
Tacos al Pastor
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon dried ground cumin seed
3 chipotle peppers, packed in adobo sauce, plus 2 tablespoon adobo sauce
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon Paprika
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
3 whole cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup pineapple juice from canned pineapple
½ cup water
3 pounds boneless Pork Shoulder
To Finish and Serve:
1 14 ounce canned pineapple diced
20 small flour or Corn tortillas, heated and kept warm
1 medium red onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup finely minced fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
4 ounce Cotijo cheese
1 cup Pico de Gallo, salsa
3 to 4 limes, cut into 8 wedges each for serving
1. In bowl of blender combine the ingredients for the marinade. Puree until smooth about 3 minutes.
2. Cut Pork roast into 4 or 5 large pieces toss with marinade. Place into large roasting pan or Rondeau and cover.
3. Place into 275 degrees oven and roast for 4 hours.
4. Remove and let cool. When cool use two forks to pull pork apart. Stir to combine.
5. Serve meat and garnishes immediately with warmed tortillas, pineapple, onions, cilantro, salsa, cotijo, and lime wedges. Meat will be very moist and should be packed into double-stacked tortillas for serving
In our never-ending quest to eat from food trucks as much as possible, the staff recently got tacos from a regular favorite, Marination Mobile. As I am trying keep my cholesterol from reaching quadruple digits, I ordered the tofu tacos. (They describe the tofu on the menu as "sexy" but I can't go there. I did eat four of them, so it certainly has undeniable appeal. There will be a second date.) They have a nice refreshing cabbage slaw and a creamy, tangy sauce. I'm not sure what the tofu is marinated in but it was really good. (My efforts to get Marination to divulge the ingredients was unsuccessful. Though they did reveal to me on Facebook that the sauce was "Nunya Sauce--as in nunya bidness." That's cold.)
Marination did, however, offer what I thought to be a great wine pairing, a Sancerre. A racy, zesty Sauvignon Blanc with a bit of richness would be great with the slaw and the creamy, uh, "Nunya" sauce. Especially with a squeeze of lime juice. I think it could even handle a bit of the pickled jalapenos. If you got a little spicier (and I did with some Sriracha) I think an off-dry German Riesling or Washington Riesling would work, too. (For the local wine, I'd go with Poet's Leap.) But I'm leaning towards Marination's pick or maybe a dry Riesling, like one from Australia.
What would wine would you match with these tacos?