Our Wine of the Week, Geyser Peak 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($18) is a classic California cabernet, full of lively forward fruit. It is, in a word, a mouthful: Juicy, intense and complex, with a long finish.
The first bursts of blackberry, black cherry and dark plum give way to clove, allspice and chocolate, which in turn rise above earthy, slightly dusty tannins woven through with vanilla and caramel. Throughout the wine, there are suggestions of dried brambles and twigs.
The wine softens slightly in the glass, as an initial bit of heat from the alcohol -- it's only 13.5 percent but at first seems higher -- blows off and the fruit relaxes a bit, evolving in a pleasant round lushness.
Of course this wine is good with red meat cooked however you like it. Oil-cured black olives, stews with roasted tomatoes and earthy grains are good companions, too.
For today's recipe I have built a meal around the grain farro, which is readily available in most markets these days. I love its earthy, almost dusty quality; served neat, it is a good companion to a cabernet. Add slow-cooked beef and some sturdy greens and you have a wonderful fall meal.
Braised Beef Shanks with Farro, Chard
and Beet Greens
Makes 3 to 4 servings
2? to 3 pounds beef shanks, cut 1? inches thick
-- Kosher salt