Al Brown meets Main Divide

I used to love lamb backstrap with pinot noir, the backstrap such an easy and tender cut that now seems to only appear in a fancy packet with a fancy price to match. Now I wander the meat department looking for quick pinot inspiration – or any inspiration – but often all I see is a display of blank canvas raw meat cuts crying out for cheffy embellishments. I am not a chef; I wouldn’t even describe myself as a cook. I cook meat as a necessity to get my protein quota. It gets boring.

Then one day in the supermarket small goods section I noticed Al Brown’s gluten free (i.e. wheat free) meatballs and thought I would give them a whirl. After all chef Al Brown has a reputation to fulfil. ‘Meatballs’ implies a fancy sauce so I flattened them out into patties and pan-fried. Gosh, the aromas coming off the cooking were salivating. Then I tasted them and I was hooked.

Main Divide Pinot Noir 2012I opened Main Divide Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2012. This is a fading Burgundy hue in the glass and has attractive ‘pinosity’ to the bouquet with morellos, tamarillos, musk and vanillin oak offering up a smooth and complete scent. The taste is succulent yet savoury with juicy flavours of purple grapes, black cherries and red plums with a spicy/zesty vibrancy to balance the savouriness and tannins that are mouthcoating in a luxurious velvety kind of way. Bottle age becomes this wine with the fruit, the savouriness and the winemaking complexities all in harmony. My rating: Excellent.

The pinot noir grapes for this wine were fermented with wild yeasts, the ferments plunged twice daily and the resulting wine matured in Burgundian oak barriques for 18 months. Alcohol is 13.5% and cost from the winery is $24.95. Main Divide is made by Pegasus Bay. Check out for more.

Al Brown’s meatballs were indeed a tasty accompaniment to the pinot so now I keep a packet of meatballs, or the large hamburger size patties in my freezer and they don’t take long to thaw.

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