Sometimes a special wine needs a special meal. Or sometimes it's vice versa. Either way, it's been too long since I came up with an excuse to spend too much time in the kitchen, so I went to work on a version of Cassoulet that I haven't made in a long time. It's basically a French meat and bean stew that is best done on a slow cooker. The version I was introduced to used lamb shanks, but from what I saw online, there are plenty of other meats that can be used. After making my own stock and blanching some local tomatoes, I figured the dish wouldn't be the same if it didn't have the smoky/salty element that the bacon would provide, as the recipe called for. So in the spirit of Tierra Sur restaurant (Herzog Winery in Oxnard, CA), I decided to see if I could partly replicate their famous lamb bacon. I lopped off a 3oz fatty portion of boneless short rib and coated it in salt. I let it cure overnight, washed the salt off, and then fashioned a cold/warm smoker out of my large outdoor gas grill. I let it go for an hour or so at 200degF. I ended up with one salty smoky piece of meat! A little too salty, but just enough for the two tablespoons that would add another dimension to the stew. Not as refined as Chef Aarons', but a worthy first effort. Anyway, fast forward six hours later with some wonderful slow cooked lamb shanks with cannellini beans, red chard, bacon of short rib, served with quinoa and the following wine pairings:
2009 Shirah McGinley Vineyard Syrah: This is one of the extended age components of Power to the People. Although this has the higher percentage of co-fermented Viognier, you wouldn't be able to tell from the nose. Very dark color, with some bright red fruit flavors, a bit of smoke and a welcome dose of earthiness. Nice acidity but a touch hot with the alcohol. However this did work very well with the richness of the dish. Very smooth, approachable, and inviting. Great wine and great pairing!
2010 Capcanes La Flor del Flor: The 100% old vine Garnacha cuvee. The color was also very dark and I found the nose to be very muted. Some dark fruit but plenty of stony/graphite/minerality that reminds me of the 2007 edition of this wine. Surprisingly full bodied (or at least medium+) and well balanced but this wine is not open for business yet. The components are there for a great wine in 2-3 years.