Perhaps it's my admittedly active imagination, but I swear I can taste the land itself in our Wine of the Week, C.G. Di Arie, 2008 Sierra Legend ($35), a blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and primitivo.
There's a concentration to the wine, a rocky intensity and a unique minerality that on first sip evokes the warm inland valley. This is terroir, of course, the taste of place at its best. You may love it, you may hate it, but there's no denying that it is unique, not generic.
The fruit is concentrated, yet in an understated way. There's blueberry and dried Santa Rosa plum, but they emerge mid-palate, not forward. The wine is not a fruit bomb. As these fruit flavors spread over the palate, they are joined by a dark smoky quality that mingles with a suggestion of new black leather warmed by the sun. Finally, there's a suggestion of meat, a pleasant gamy quality that has me thinking of wild duck.
And, indeed, wild duck is a great match, as is the dark meat of heritage breed turkey, wild turkey, wild boar and venison. It would also be outstanding with roast goose. If you have access to these meats, you will probably want to have this wine around. It's a good choice with grass-fed beef, too.
The earthy concentration of the wine will flatter winter squash, dry-farmed potatoes and portobello mushrooms, which opens up a lot of possibilities for vegetables. If you're energetic, try homemade portobello raviolis with a sauce of Italian fontina cheese and sweet Spanish paprika.
For today's recipe, I'm inspired by the cheese ravioli that Traverso's sold for decades and that are now available at Bill and Deb's Downtown Deli (621 Fourth St., Santa Rosa).
Cheese Raviolis with Winter Squash Sauce
Makes 4 servings
3 tablespoons clarified butter