Last year, I was sent an invitation to visit a town in western Macedonia, near Kozani called Siatista. Most towns have one central square but Siatista has about three as the main road spirals up to the acropolis (Mount Grivas). Siatista was an important arena during the struggle for Macedonia (and northern Greece’s) struggle for independence Ottoman rule.
The history of Siatista was already aware of – the wines of this town, not so much. Dimitris Diamantis of Dimantis Wines played gracious host to this beautiful, traditional town with its Byzantine churches, well-preserved Macedonian mansions and long history of wine making. Soon after checking into my hotel, I was given a tour of the winery then off we went for a tour of the vineyards that also include the old-style of vine keeping (low to the ground).
The Diamantis family began to make wine once again (on a commercial level) in 1984 with the rebirth of the local Moschmavro, Hondromavro and Nigrikiotiko varietals. The Diamantis family maintains about 10 acres of grape wines with the elevation ranging from 800 to 920 metres above sea level.
The subject of this post (and recipe) is the “liasto” fortified wine of Siatista. The “liasto” wine is a naturally sweetened wine that looks somwhere in between a red and a rose. It’s sweet to the taste but not sickly sweet with a noticeable tart finish. The “liasto” wine is made with mostly Moschomavro grapes that are harvested in October then they are laid placed in shaded wooden slats “Iliastres”. The grapes are laid out to dry for three months with the natural autumn breezes providing plenty of circulation as the grapes dry.
The dried grapes (liastes) are then crushed, ferment commences and then aged in French oak barrels for at least of 4 years or until they are just right. Making “liasto” wine is time and labour intensive, therefore it’s not cheap yet it’s worth the splurge. Diamantis wines are not distributed here in Canada or the US (yet) but efforts are being made. In the meantime, consider visiting Greece and in particular my part of Greece – northern Greece (Macedonia) and most certainly spend a weekend in Siatista trying the fine wines and delicious local cuisine.
This dish was created and cooked by me last September and I’ve only just gotten around to posting this now. I wanted to highlight the beauty of Siatista and give you another reason to visit Greece. This dish looks pretty fancy on the plate but it’s a simply executed one: season your pork tenderloin, sear then finish in the oven. The sauce contains stock, wine and the Diamantis Liasto wine and balanced with some slightly tart sour cherry preserves. In Greece, the preservation of fruits (and even some vegetables) into spoon sweets and marmalades has been going on for ages and one of my favourites is made from Vissino or sour cherry preserve. I love the Vissino preserve as it’s not as sweet as the spoon sweets and there’s that hint of tartness.
This sauce would be wonderful with veal, wild game or pork like in this instance. There is balance between savory & sweet with shallots, garlic, stock and rosemary rounding out the sauce. The allspice and cinnamon rubbed on the meat are subtle and they make for an ideal pairing with a Diamantis red or rose. Enjoy!
Pork Tenderloin With “Iliastos” Wine & Vissino Sauce
2 pork tenderloins, silver-skin removed
coarse sea salt & fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. of olive oil
Liastos Wine & Vissino Sauce
2 Tbsp. of olive oil
3/4 cup finely chopped shallots (or red onions)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup Diamantis Liasto wine*
1 cup of beef or veal stock
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2-3 Tbsp. of Vissino (sour cherry preserve or marmalade) – to taste
Pre-heated 375F oven
- Remove/trim the silvers-skin from your pork and discard. Season the tenderloins with coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper and sprinkle the ground allspice and cinnamon over all the meat. Place a skillet on your stove-top over medium-high heat and add the oil. Sear the pork on all sides (until a warm brown colour) then transfer to a baking tray and place in your pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the internal temperature is 150F. Remove from the oven and cover with foil/keep warm.
- In the meantime, add the remaining oil in the skillet and add your shallots/onions, garlic and stir over medium heat with a wooden spoon for 4 minutes.. Add the stock, red wine and “liasto” wine and deglaze by stirring and scraping up the brown bits with your wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer, add the sprigs of rosemary and reduce the sauce to about half.
- Add your sour cherry preserve and stir-in until incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper (add more preserve or more stock as desired). Remove the rosemary sprigs and reserve sauce.
- This main was served with garlic-mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and warm rocket. Add your peeled potatoes into some cold water and add some salt and 1 clove of garlic for each potato. Bring to a a boil and simmer until fork-tender. Strain and mash the potatoes and garlic and add unsalted butter and milk and salt and pepper to taste. To make the mushrooms, add some olive oil to a skillet with a smashed clove of garlic and add salt and pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes and sprinkle a but of fresh thyme leaves and add some rocket, arugala or other greens of choice and remove from the heat. Toss to just wilt the greens and serve atop of your garlic mashed potatoes along the pork.
- Slice your pork tenderloin into thick medallions and divide and arrange on the plates. Spoon over the “Liasto” sauce. Serve with side of garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and wild greens. Pair with a Diamantis Rose from Siatista.
*You may use another fortified wine of your choice (nothing too sweet).
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