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This Napa Valley Merlot Loves Food (Especially These Pork Chops)


This Napa Valley Merlot Loves Food (Especially These Pork Chops)

It’s Single-Vineyard Merlot’s season to shine!

Expertly crafted Napa Valley Merlot brings some stellar qualities to the table: impeccable balance and silky, velvety textures. It's also remarkably versatile, especially with all the spring wine and food recipes we've been pulling out of archives, from spring ham to tacos layered with shredded, slow smoked pork or brisket.

A recent food and wine pairing favorite? A cinnamon-rubbed pork chop paired with with one of the most compelling, food-friendly Merlots in our portfolio: Nickel & Nickel Suscol Ranch Merlot, Napa Valley.

Pork Chops with Roasted Spring Leeks and Parmesan Polenta

Wine Pairing: Nickel & Nickel Suscol Ranch Merlot, Napa Valley

Chef's Note: The key to this recipe is the bay leaf and cinnamon-infused spice rub. Press it into your pork the night before, along with the marinade. When you get them on the grill, your chops will develop a tender caramelized char that’s even more succulent when paired with Suscol Ranch Merlot’s dark plum, spice and tobacco notes.


Spice rub

1 tablespoon black pepper

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

½ teaspoon piment d’espelette

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

5 dried bay leaves


1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

2/3 cup olive oil

2 ounces sundried tomatoes

4 bone-in pork chops, 1-inch thick

Parmesan Polenta:

6 cups whole milk

6 cups water

2 cups polenta

½ cup Parmesan cheese

Roasted Leeks

3 leeks, coined

Extra virgin olive oil, to coat

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon shallots, minced

1 tablespoon thyme, minced


Pork Chop Marinade:

The night prior to cooking, make your spice rub by processing black peppercorns, coriander seeds, piment d’espelette, ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg and bay leaves in a spice grinder. You can also use a mortar and pestle to work your seasonings by hand. Set spice rub aside.

Purée chopped onion, chopped garlic, olive oil and sundried tomatoes in a blender or processor. Pour half of the marinade into a baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle spice rub onto one side of the pork chops. Place the seasoned side down in your baking dish, then use the remaining marinade to cover the pork chops. Sprinkle the rest of the spice rub over your chops. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Parmesan Polenta:

In a large 2 ½-inch deep sauté pan, bring milk and water to a simmer. Slowly add in polenta, whisking once every five minutes for about 40 minutes, or until done. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Spring Leeks:

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice leeks into ¼-inch thick rings, then rinse under cold water until completely cleaned. Lightly toss the leek rings in extra virgin olive oil, followed by your minced garlic, shallot and thyme. Place leek rings on a sheet pan and roast in the oven until golden, 30 to 40 minutes.

Grilled Pork Chops

Remove refrigerated pork chops and bring to room temp, approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat the grill to medium. Season marinated pork chops with salt, then grill one side for about five minutes. Turn pork chops and cook the other side for an additional five minutes. Rest chops on the grill over indirect heat for five to ten minutes, to allow the meat to caramelize and almost char because of the natural sugars in the marinade.


Scoop a generous helping of polenta in the center of each plate. Portion out the roasted leeks in the center of the polenta. Place pork chop atop or alongside the leeks. Pour four glasses of Nickel & Nickel Suscol Ranch Merlot, and enjoy the layers of succulent plum, spice and wild sage flavors that unfold on the palate.

Learn more about our single-vineyard approach to Napa Valley Merlot. Explore all the 100% varietal, single-vineyard wines in our Nickel & Nickel portfolio. Or, discover more or our favorite food and wine pairings and recipes.

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