As I have often written in my weekly newsletter and club offerings, Sunday is my big cooking night and it usually means something special is coming out of the cellar. This week we had an additional reason to celebrate, our son came home for spring break from UF. It gave me the chance to finally cook the veal shanks I purchased in Atlanta a couple of months ago (kept frozen of course.) They were big, meaty, gorgeous examples, that were almost two inches thick, like the ones you see in cookbooks.
The preparation would be ossso buco, using the Cook’s Illustrated version. The only difference is I prefer to take the braising liquid and mirepoix and puree it into a sauce, not serve it like a stew. I also am a purist and prefer saffron risotto to their polenta. If you want to see the meal then visit our Facebook page for a pictoral explanation.
My wine pick, from deep in the cellar, is the 1999 Sandrone Barolo “Cannubi Boschis.” This is one of the great cru sites of the region, produced by one of the top winemakers in the Piedmont. Sandrone, who produced his first vintage in 1978, was one of the vangards of quality Barolo in the 1990s and remains a top producer to this day. While wines made from Nebbiolo are not everyones cup of tea, as my description below will show, but if you tire of wines that are little more than oak laden fruit bombs then you might find them quite exciting.
The Cannubi cru is located in the commune of Barolo and like all the best sites faces south-southeast. Nebbiolo is finicky when it comes to ripening so producers have to plant the grape in the perfect exposition to the sun to coax a few extra degrees of ripeness each year. What makes Sandrone so unique is that he was one of the first to perform a “green harvest” in his vineyards. This entails passing through the vineyard after veraison and dropping those clusters of grapes that are not perfect. Sandrone actually performs this twice on this vineyard, an expensive process not only in time but also it greatly reduces the vineyard’s yield. The result is a level of concenatration in the final wine that makes most others pale by comparison.
The important part of this meal was the wine, which was stunning. (Actually dinner with my family, but you get the idea) After an hour in the decanter it showed classic notes of road tar, porcini mushroom, Mr. Lincoln rose petals, violets, sour cherries and a wisp of strawberry jam. The tannins were soft, almost completely transparent, and the finish would not stop. Overall a great wine at the prime of it’s drinking window. I would encourage anyone interested in this wine to check out the New York Times Wine School for February, where they featured Nebbiolo.
The current vintages of Barolo, 2009, are very good, on par with the 1999s. I would encourage anyone who enjoys great wines to slide a couple of bottles into their cellar. The 2010s will arrive soon, touted as one of the greatest vintages ever in this region. For those with a lot of patience you may want to grab a few of those too.