Lamb Shanks and Homemade Noodles … A Delight with an Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Pairing: Lamb Shanks and Homemade Noodles, Paired with a 2013 Dutcher Crossing Cooney Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (from Alexander Valley) 

Food: This meal started life as my mother’s signature dish, Lamb Shanks and Spaghetti, and all of us loved it. Her version was simplicity itself … two or three meaty lamb shanks, tomato juice, chili powder, green peppers, salt and pepper. Braise the meat for a few hours in the juice and seasonings. When the meat is practically falling off the bones, remove all of the meat from the bones, skim the fat off the remaining liquid, reduce until thickened and serve over Ronzoni spaghetti (Is there another kind?). We couldn’t get enough of it.

Fast forward sixty + years. Now the pasta of choice is homemade noodles made with white whole wheat flour, semolina, and an egg. Our lamb shanks come from a nearby sheep farm. Let’s see … tomato juice — check, peppers — check, chili powder – check, seasoning — check. Pretty much the same as Mom’s dish except, of course, for the thick, chewy homemade noodles. That change brings an already yummy dish to another whole level.

Thick-cut Homemade Whole Wheat and Semolina Noodles with Lamb Shanks in a Light Tomato Sauce

Wine: One would be hard pressed to find a better place to produce Cabernet Sauvignon than the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. Within its vast 3 million acres resides California’s North Coast, one of the world’s premier wine regions. It contains Napa, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Stag’s Leap, and Carneros, often referred to as “the aristocracy of American Wine”. The Alexander Valley, located in the northern part of Sonoma enjoys a warm, dry growing season with cool evenings due to its proximity to the coast and the cooler fog that rolls inland in the evening. The soils are deep alluvial gravel, requiring the vines to expend considerable energy just to grow deep roots to access the limited water. This provides just the right level of “stress” forcing the vines to focus their remaining energy on producing small, thick-skinned grapes with concentrated sugars. These are particularly good conditions for producing superb Cabernet Sauvignon. And, in our opinion, Dutcher Crossing Winery is among the very best producers of Cab in this stellar wine region.

Tasting Notes:  Color is deep, dark garnet … almost black. Aroma of black currant dominates the nose, while a littler bit of fragrant leather sneaks in. The palate shows off some very nicely balanced tannins to help show off the jammy black currant and fresh blueberries. An exceptional Cab that goes perfectly with the flavors of rich lamb, spicy chili, and robust tomato. The rustic whole wheat noodles add even more depth to the dish. Delicious.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Lamb Shanks and Noodles: Shiraz (Australia), Malbec (Argentina), Rioja (Spain), Zinfandel (Sonoma, California)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Cabernet Sauvignon:  Steak Au Poivre, Blue Cheese, Chocolate (Dark, Bittersweet), Grilled Hamburgers

More About the Alexander Valley Wine Region: Alexander Valley

A Source: Dutcher Crossing Winery

Pot Roast … the Ultimate Comfort Food … Served with an Elegant Cab Sauvignon

Pairing:  Pot Roast Paired with a 2014 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley – Sonoma County)

Food: My wife and I each grew up in the 1950’s with Pot Roast as a fairly regular feature to the dinnertime meal. My mother’s go-to cookbook for such a meal was the Joy of Cooking, while my wife’s mother relied on Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cookbook as her cooking bible.

Two iconic Cookbook “Bibles” Fannie Farmer and Joy of Cooking

To this classic dish of braised bottom round beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions we’ve added mushrooms (fresh shiitake and dried porcini) and a splash of red wine to the braising liquid. Mom might be a little shocked!

Beef Pot Roast Braised with Carrots, Potatoes, Onions, and Mushrooms

Wine: Perhaps the most important wine made in the Alexander Valley, located in Sonoma County, is Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape thrives in the lands surrounding the Russian River that flows through the Alexander Valley in the warmer climates north of the city of Healdsburg. The Russian River Valley lands south of the city are cooler and foggier, perfect conditions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Taken together, these two valleys account for some of the finest wine production in the United States.

Tasting Notes: Color is a deep violet-red … or dark garnet. The nose is rich in the aromas of cocoa, black cherry, black currant, hazelnut, and allspice. The palate furthers the black cherry and currant, and adds pepper, leather and cedar. Wonderfully complex. The black currant persists on the long finish. The Cabernet really brings out and enhances the earthy mushrooms in the sauce and the wonderful beefiness of the meat. A superb pairing!

Other Wines That Pair Well with Pot Roast: Merlot (Chile), Zinfandel (California), Barolo (Italy), Cotes du Rhone (France)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Cabernet Sauvignon: Roast or Grilled Lamb, Roast Duck, Venison, Game Birds

View the Alexander Valley Wine Region:  Alexander Valley AVA

A Source:

Noisettes d’Agneau a l’Estragon … a Favorite Lamb with Cabernet Sauvignon

Pairing: Noisettes d’Agneau à l’Estragon (Boned Rib Lamb Chops with a Tarragon Sauce) Paired with a 2012 Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia 

Food: As a family we have enjoyed this lamb dish for almost fifty years, most recently to help celebrate my birthday. The recipe comes from Craig Claiborne‘s cookbook, The New York Times International Cookbook. In our household, this dog-eared, heavily stained, falling-apart-at-the-seams kitchen treasure is a well-loved companion dishing out culinary wisdom with a wealth of wonderful mealtime ideas. Noisettes d’Agneau à l’Estragon is quite simple to prepare, but elegant and delicious for that special meal. Quickly sear the boned lamb rib chops, keep them warm, and sauté a chopped shallot in some butter, deglaze pan with some white wine, add a little beef stock, reduce over medium heat, add a generous spoonful of tarragon, and pour the sauce over the lamb. The complementary flavors of lamb, tarragon, wine, and butter is fantastic. We like it with asparagus and roasted red potatoes.

Noisette d'Agneau

Wine: The Margaret River wine region of Western Australia is famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Chardonnay, oftentimes favorably compared with their European counterparts, notably Red Bordeaux and White Burgundy. The Leeuwin Estate winery has a well-earned reputation as among the best wineries in all of Australia and with strong international accolades as well. Although we see ourselves as mostly locavores and our lamb comes from the farm down the road from us, it’s fun to drink a wine that comes from arguably the most distant location from us here on planet Earth.

Cabernet Sauvignon Leeuwin

Tasting Notes:  Beautiful gemstone garnet color. Multi-tiered aromas of black currant jam cooking on the stove, fruit leather, and cowhide leather. Concentrated flavors of chocolate and black and red currant. Surprisingly light for a cabernet sauvignon. None of the harsh tannins and very gentle cedar. “I just got a flavor that is so remarkable … but I don’t know what it is!” says my wife. Like good French cooking … you often can’t discern all of the individual ingredients. The chocolatey-ness drifts you along on the lovely finish. Just perfect with this lamb.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Lamb Chops and Tarragon:  Shiraz (Australia), Red Bordeaux (France), Merlot (Italy), Zinfandel (California)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Cabernet Sauvignon:  Beef (Grilled or Roasted), Venison, Game Birds, Roast Duck

View the Beautiful Margaret River Wine Region:  margaret river wine region

A Source:  www.