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If you’re looking for a big, burly flavor bomb to wow friends at your next barbecue, search no further than our Wine of the Week, Foppiano Vineyards 2012 Russian River Valley Petite Sirah ($25). It is a feisty wine, with both plenty of sass and a fillip of elegance, deep inky black fruit, bittersweet chocolate, black pepper and dried herbs. If it were a vehicle, it would be a vintage Ducati, riding not only onto your lawn but up to your front door. Let me in! it announces.

You can take it almost anywhere, from a chuck wagon feast to a sunset supper, though you probably wouldn’t want to drag it, kicking and screaming, into an oyster bar. This wine demands foods that matches it in size.

To enjoy this meaty wine in hot weather, chill it to near cellar temperature and serve it outside, with sweet peppers, pizza, mushrooms and corn on the cob, all cooked over coals or wood. Grilled meats are excellent companions, too. In cooler weather, braised meats, stews and pasta with traditional ragu are the best choices.

Beef Chili Colorado

Serves 6 to 8

3 pounds well-marbled beef chuck roast or similar cut

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large yellow onions, diced

1 to 2 jalapeños, minced

6 garlic cloves, minced

— Kosher salt

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 to 4 tablespoons medium-hot red chili powder (see Note)

1 tablespoon chipotle powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano

½ cup white wine vinegar

3 cans (10 ounces each) Las Palmas brand red chile sauce

2 cups beef stock or water

— Black pepper in a mill

2 bunches (about 20) green onions, trimmed and very thinly sliced

12 to 16 fresh corn tortillas or homemade cornbread

Prepare a fire in an outdoor grill and when the coals are ready, set the beef on the grill rack, cook for 4 to 5 minutes, turn and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sauté until very soft and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the jalapeños and garlic and sauté 2 minutes more. Season with salt.

When the meat is cool enough to handle, cut it into fairly small dice. Add it to the pan after seasoning the vegetables with salt. Sprinkle the mixture with the flour, stir, and then sprinkle with chili powder and chipotle powder.

Cook and stir for 2 minutes, add the cumin, oregano and vinegar and stir thoroughly. Add the chile sauce and stock or water, stir, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, until the meat is very tender and the sauce has thickened, about 2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and add water if it becomes too dry. Taste the chili and season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat, cover and let rest at least 15 minutes. For best flavor, cool completely, refrigerate and serve the following day; this allows the flavors to fully blossom.

To serve, pour the hot chili into individual bowls, scatter green onions on top and serve with hot tortillas or cornbread alongside.

Showstopper Pinot Noirs



Bravium, 2015 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 12.5% alcohol, $29. ★★★★

This pinot is striking because of its generous fruit and surprising undercurrent of spice. It’s weighted to red fruit –– cherry and pomegranate –– and its coupled with bright acid. It has a lush texture, and nice length, with a black pepper finish. Impressive. (Bravium, for the curious, is a Latin word that loosely means reward, prize or gift.)


Migration, 2015 Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.1%, $68. ★★★★: This pinot has explosive fruit on the palate –– cherry, raspberry and cranberry. It’s a touch earthy with a hint of Asian spice, and it has a lingering finish. It’s striking.

Merry Edwards, 2015 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 14.3%, $48. ★★★★1/2: What sets this pinot apart is its depth of flavor. It has tangy red fruit and savory notes of earth and mushroom. It’s a complex pinot, with just the right amount of spice in the mix. This supple pinot is knockout.

Three Sticks, 2015 Cuvee Eva Marie, Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir, 14.3%. $90. ★★★★1/4: The Three Sticks is a serious pinot with a lush texture and gorgeous fruit –– bing cherry and blackberry. It’s complex, with layered flavors of herbs and spice, and it has a lingering finish. Well-crafted.

Carmel Road, 2014 Panorama Vineyard Arroyo Secco, Monterey North Crest Pinot Noir, 14.5%, $55. ★★★1/2: A pretty pinot with bright cherry fruit and notes of toffee and vanilla bean. It’s a balanced pinot because its bright acidity keeps it in check. Lovely.

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