Our Wine of the Week, Sebastiani 2010 Sonoma County Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon ($50), is what I call a grown-up wine and not just because of its price. Its flavors are focused and elegant, with a pleasing depth punctuated by a handsome acidity that stops the wine from becoming ponderous. If the wine were a dinner guest, he -- and, yes, I think this is a masculine wine -- would arrive in a beautifully pressed suit and dominate the evening's conversation in a riveting way.
There's plenty of black fruit, with spicy notes that move like a melody through the wine's core. As the wine lingers on the palate before your next sip, flavors of licorice root and allspice blossom. Tannins are firm and just a bit rough, qualities that will resolve as the wine ages.
We tend, I think, to feel a wine such as this one needs to be served with equally elegant fare. Certainly, the wine is a wonderful match with rare beef, lamb and duck, seasoned with nothing more than a bit of salt and pepper. It is also excellent with rare tuna, especially when it is topped with a round of black-olive butter. But the wine is excellent with more rustic fare, too, including pasta with short rib ragout, lentil risotto, braised sausages and roasted root vegetables served with black-olive tapenade.
For today's recipe, I've adapted a long-time favorite from my book "California Home Cooking" (Harvard Common Press, 1997), a rustic pot roast with potatoes, carrots and celery root. The dish is perfect at this time of year, when nights are still chilly. I like to serve spinach with a spritz of lemon alongside and a simple green salad afterward.
California Pot Roast
Makes 4 to 6 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 chuck roast, about 4 pounds
-- Kosher salt
-- Black pepper in a mill
3 yellow onions, peeled and cut into 3/8-inch thick rounds
6 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed and thinly sliced
6 shallots, peeled
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and peeled
2 cups full-bodied dry red wine
2 cups beef stock or duck stock
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 sprig each of oregano, thyme, rosemary and Italian parsley, tied together
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
4 medium carrots, preferably Nantes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
12 small, new, red potatoes
1 celery root, peeled and cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat and brown it on all sides. Season the meat with salt and pepper, transfer it to a plate and set it aside. Add the onions, leeks, shallots and garlic to the pan and saute, stirring gently, until the vegetables are just taking on a bit of color.
Season with salt and pepper.
Return the meat to the pot, add the wine, stock and tomatoes and tuck in the bundle of herbs, the bay leaf and the star anise. When the liquid boils, cover the pot and transfer it to the oven.
Bake for 1? hours.
Uncover the pot, add the carrots, potatoes and celery root, cover and return to the oven.
Cook until the meat is fork-tender, about 1 to 1? hours.