Cline Cellars 2015 Contra Costa County Ancient Vines Zinfandel ($20), our Wine of the Week, is big, bold and generous, with lots of upfront fruit and threads of sweet spice, cocoa and coffee.
From bright strawberry to dark, moody chocolate, this is a wine that keeps on giving, from first sip to its final fade on your palate. It makes a big impression, especially for its price.
This is a wine to enjoy with winter root vegetables, especially parsnips and carrots; wild boar and venison; braised lamb shanks; winter squash; spaghetti squash and all manner of slow-cooked tomato-based sauces, from a classic ragu to a complex molé rojo. Curried sweet potatoes, sweet potato molé, or sweet potato chowder all welcome this wine alongside.
For today’s recipe, inspiration comes from the spaghetti squash now in season and the goat meat that is readily available in Sonoma County. Its deeper flavors resonate with the wine’s forward fruit, as the spaghetti squash softens the impact of the alcohol, which is 15 percent. If you cannot find or do not care for goat meat, use lamb or beef instead.
Spaghetti Squash with Goat Ragu
Serves 6 to 8
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
3 small carrots, peeled and minced (about 1 cup)
3 celery stalks, minced (about 1 cup)
6 ounces pancetta, cut into small dice
2 pounds ground goat (or lamb), preferably chili grind (ask your butcher)
— Kosher salt
— black pepper in a mill
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
— whole nutmeg
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 cup whole milk
3 cups canned diced tomatoes, preferably homemade or Muir Glen brand
1 spaghetti squash, roasted, seeded and scraped from its shell (see Note below)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
— chunk of Vella Dry Jack, Valley Ford Estero Gold or similar cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan set over medium-low heat, add the onion, and sauté until it is limp, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and sauté until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the pancetta and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes more, until the pancetta is translucent.
Add the goat or lamb, increase the heat to medium, and sauté, stirring continuously with a fork, until it loses its pink color. Season with salt and pepper, Stir in the cinnamon and add several turns or gratings of nutmeg. Add the wine and simmer until it is nearly completely evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until it is nearly completely evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, decrease the heat to very, very low and cook slowly for 4 to 5 hours, stirring now and then. After the sauce has been cooking for about 3 hours, use a large spoon to skim off and discard any excess fat, which will have collected on top of the sauce. Continue to cook until the sauce is very thick and very rich.
Where: 100 Brown St., Sebastopol
When: Open at 11 a.m. every day until 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and to 7 p.m. on Sundays
Reservations: Call for take-out at 824-4800
Price range: Inexpensive, with all items $10.99 or less
Wine list: NA
Food: ** ½