Braised Lamb Shank & Wine 02-25-13

 At our VINO restaurant we strive to serve good food….done with a Mediterranean edge.  We also want the food to be very wine friendly at the same time.

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One of the dishes VINO Chef Keith Endo features on the menu is a Braised Lamb Shank which is served with roasted fingerling potatoes, parsnip puree & root vegetables.  This is a dish which works really well with rustic red wines, especially those from the Mediterranean basin.

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   1995 Domaine Tempier Bandol “Cabassaou”

Normally when we serve braised red meat dishes, our “knee jerk”, “go to” wine is a Bandol from the iconic Domaine Tempier.   Their hearty, wildly rustic, soulful Mourvedre based red wines just work magic with foods like this.

When Lulu married Lucien Peyraud in 1936, her father gave them Domaine Tempier (which had been in the family since 1834).  With the seaport of Bandol nearby, it makes sense that the soils are clay-limestone.  The Cabassaou bottling (1987 being the first commercial release) used to be produced from the Old Vines of La Tourtine, but now is designated as the lower parcel below La Tourtine, which is much more protected from the gusting winds.  It typically also has the largest chunk of Mourvedre in the blend & is therefore the most apparently ripe, powerful, gutsy & dense of the Tempier portfolio.

This 1995 was that…AND more.  It had an unusual color–black as shoe polish…though not shiny.  It had a real roasted quality to its nose, with ripe blackberries, wild underbrush, baked rocks & loads of gamey/rustic characteristics.  On the palate is had a wonderful depth of fruit, full of life & vigor with great structure & long chained kind of tannins.  It was great by itself….AND just melted in with the shank.  Terrific pairing!!!!

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  2005 Renato Ratti Barolo “Marcenasco”

Another really good option with braised lamb shank is Italian Barolo.  Here is a real standout from a highly revered producer which is back on track again.

Over the years, Renato Ratti was one of the true icons of the wine world.  In 1980, he was selected as President of the Barolo Consortium & the General Director of the Asti Consortium.  I was fortunate to taste with him on a judging panel of Italian wines for 4 days in the early 1980’s .  What a truly awesome experience that was!   Although he spoke only limited English, one can readily sense his passion & dedication to his wine region & its wines.

Ratti’s Marcenasco parcel is located in La Morra….southeast & southwest facing, at roughly 800 to 900 feet elevation on bluish marl soils.

Being quite the innovator, Renato looked to produce red wines of elegance, subtlety & longevity.  To that end he shortened the fermentation & maceration time periods AND reduced the time spent in oak down to 2 years.

Here is their 2005…a real thoroughbred….which has incredible power, depth & complexity with a real regal presence……& for me one of the top Baroli of the vintage.  I love the sandalwood/cherrywood, characteristics “tar & roses”/roasted chestnut, musk nuances, the amazing depth of fruit & formidable structure & long finish all of which worked well with the lamb shank.

 Lamb 0062001 Serafini & Vidotto “Rosso di Abazia”

Here is a VERY special gift from Isabella & Dino Zambon….who own & run the finest restaurant in Venice, Italy.  Isabella, Dino & their kids (Jessica & Filippo) have become our dear friends over the years…..eventhough it is long distance.

The Serafini & Vidotto wines are the featured specialties for their restaurant Osteria Oliva Nera (which, by the way, is a MUST go if you happen to be in Venice).

This particular bottling is grown in the hills of Montello & Colli Asolani, northwest of Treviso in northeast Italy.  The trio of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot seems to fair well in the dark reddish-brown, iron rich, clay soils of the area & result in very powerful, full flavored, classy, surprisingly approachable red wines.  This one being 11 to 12 years old had a wonderful layering of complexities, seamless flow on the palate while still keeping a big, solid frame.  Bravo to Isabella & Dino….& thank you for sharing! 

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 1999 Domaine de la Grange des Peres

After studying/working with such winemaking icons as Jean Francois Coche in Meursault, Gerard Chave in Hermitage & Eloi Durrbach at Domaine Trevallon in Provence, the now iconic Laurent Vaille founded his own domaine in the L’Herault in 1989.

Because of the hard limestone & poor soils, Laurent essentially had to dynamite to clear the land of the rocks, boulders & glacerial scree…..which was way more so than his neighbor at Mas Daumas Gassac.

Laurent planted with Syrah, Roussanne & Marsanne which he got from Chave & Cabernet which he got from Trevallon.

Over the years, since the inaugural 1992 vintage, the blend of grape varieties seem to change.  BUT, the style of Grange des Peres, which deftly combines power, depth, terroir with class, restraint, nuance & a surprising deliciousness appears through each vintages’ wine.

“Nature gave us a partition of land. It is up to us to interpret it.”

This 1999 is still a baby……in terms of its life….but is gorgeous nonetheless, with neverending depth, nuance upon nuance coming out of the closet with air time, wonderful texture & a long, long finish.


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