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Pork tenderloin in marsala sauce: a difficult match?

It's Saturday night in, and with a few bottles of wine open, another chance to experiment with some food and wine combinations.

The food:

Starter: Flaked smoked trout on toasted cocktail blinis, with creme fraiche and a pinch of lumpfish caviar on top.

Main course: Pork tenderloin in a marsala sauce, with sage and mushrooms, served with sauteed herbed potatoes.

The wines:

Millton Chenin Blanc 1998, Te Arai Vineyard, Gisborne, New Zealand
Biodynamically produced wine from a 20 Ha estate established in 1981. This was barrel fermented in 600 litre barrels. Pale yellow/gold. Lfted, creamy nose with a touch of honey and a slight smokiness. On palate there is soft, smoky fruit with some fatness and spice from the oak. Creamy and toasty, this is a rich savoury wine with a lovely soft texture and good intensity. The firm acidity suggests that this wine may develop further. Well priced. (£7.99, Tesco) 2/00 

Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray 'Le Bouchet' 1997 (Bernard Fouquet)
Pale yellow colour, this has an odd nose at first, with a sulfur kick followed by spicy apple pie and honey notes. But the nose is not what this wine is about. On the palate it bursts into life with apples, honey, and spicy, mineralic undertones. There is good concentration and a nice balance of sweetness and acid. This is deliciously and unfashionably demi-sec. Very fairly priced. (£6.99, Oddbins) 2/00

Reischgraf von Kesselstatt 1996 Graacher Himmerlreich Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Saar Ruwer, QMP AP 3561077 55 97 8.5º  alcohol
Striking nose of pears, apples and honey, with a touch of stinky cabbage. On the palate it is quite soft and gently sweet, with flavours of canteloupe melon and grapefruit. Some apples and honey, also. A nice wine for casual sipping: Fiona calls this a 'breakfast wine'! Makes a real change from the big new world whites that form the bulk of our white wine consumption. Very good. (Oddbins £6.99) 2/00

Dom Ferraz Dão 1998, Portugal
A blend of Touriga Nacional and Jaen grapes. On the heels of the very successfull 1997, this co-op wine is a real disappointment: it is clearly not in the same league as the previous vintage, even though the same oenologist Jose Nevia, is behind it. Muted nose of damp stones. Moderate tannic structure, with some cherry fruit and not much else. Lacks the seductive nose and rich texture of the previous vintage. Could this be down to poor oaking? It is not a bad wine, it is just very ordinary and rather unappealing. (£4.99 Tesco) 2/00

How did the wines match up?

With the starter: The best is the Millton Chenin blanc. With its rich texture, it matches well with the smoked fish and savoury blinis. The Vouvray is the worst: it is too noticeably sweet. The Riesling is not bad, but its lightness and freshness are just a little too much, although the acidity cuts nicely through the creaminess of the creme fraiche. I didn't try the Dão with the starter.

With the main course: The appely Riesling goes very well with the pork in its slightly sweet sauce. The NZ Chenin is also a good, perhaps more conventional food match. The soft, sweet Vouvray surprisingly also works well, despite its obvious sweetness and full texture. None of these three would be a bad match, and the Riesling is perhaps the best. The Dão is a very different wine, but also works quite well. On its own it is rather a dissapointing performer, but the food brings out the peppery, herby elements in the wine quite well. Having said this, I think it rather overpowers the food, and would rather have any of the three whites with this meal.