Vintage after vintage, Shafer Vineyards has made sophisticated, elegant and gorgeous cabernets, wines that drink beautifully when young but get better and better for a couple of decades.
Our Wine of the Wine, Shafer Vineyards 2015 Napa Valley Stags Leap District One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon ($95), is no exception; it fits perfectly into the winery’s tradition.
Although it is young for a cabernet of this pedigree, this wine is drinking quite well, with tannins more silken than rough and alternating layers of red fruit and evocative spice. You’ll notice pomegranate, black plum, cranberry, fresh sage, cedar and little bursts of black peppercorns. It is a classic.
It is easy to enjoy this wine with red meats, of course. Everything from rare beef and bison to venison and other game are happy companions. When it comes to either accompaniments or vegetables to put at the center of the plate, the best matches are carrots; eggplant; slow-cooked tomatoes and dried tomatoes; grilled radicchio; wild mushrooms, especially morels, porcini and black chanterelles; lentils and quinoa. The wine also works beautifully with ahi tuna that is seared rare, aged cheeses, toasted walnuts and Dijon mustard. Bacon is a lovely paramour, too, as are traditional — not made of chicken — sausages.
Another great match, possibly one of the best marriages for cabernet sauvignon and one that is not widely understood, is halibut. The richness of the fish is ideal with the wine and, in today’s recipe, the match is enhanced with anchovy butter, carrots and black olives.
Sautéed Halibut with Zucchini, Carrots, Olives & Za’atar
Makes 2 servings
2 halibut fillets, about 6 ounces each
1 teaspoon za’atar (see note below)
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 small anchovy fillet, mashed, or 1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
— Black pepper in a mill
1 medium carrot, trimmed
1 medium Romanesco zucchini
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons Rainwater Madeira or dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced black olives
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and set two oven-proof plates on the middle rack.
Set the halibut on a clean work surface and season it all over, lightly, with za’atar, using about half of the spice mixture. Set aside.
Put the butter into a small bowl, add the anchovy and several turns of black pepper and mix with a fork until smooth. Set aside.
Grate the carrot and zucchini, using the large blade of a box grater.
Put about a tablespoon of the butter into a medium sauté pan set over medium heat. When it is melted, add the shallot and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.
Season with salt and add the cumin. Add the carrots and zucchini, toss quickly, add the Madeira or wine and cook gently until just softened, about 4 minutes. Taste, correct for salt, add the parsley and toss gently.
Open the oven and divide the vegetable mixture between the two plates. Close the oven.