Pairings: Suave cab soars with beef tenderloin
A classic and classy cabernet sauvignon, such as our Wine of the Week, 2017 Forefathers Alexander Valley Lone Tree Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($50), is a perfect dead-of-winter wine. Black fruit swirls around a thread of bright raspberry like a dark sky highlights the first evening star.
Fresh herbs — a hint of tarragon, a whisper of rosemary, a flourish of licorice mint — mingle with sweet spices, and it’s all buoyed by a supple foundation that resonates on the palate until your next sip.
Alcohol hovers around 15%, which should be a consideration when it comes to pairing the wine effectively at the table.
Luscious foods will mirror the wine’s rich depth and cushion the palate enough that the heat of the alcohol won’t interfere with the flavors of either the wine or the food.
Beef stews, venison stews and slow-cooked meats such as lamb shanks are all excellent matches. Vegetarians will appreciate the way the wine highlights and is highlighted by sweet potatoes.
Other root vegetables, roasted with butter in a hot oven, are good matches, too, as are pumpkin raviolis in gorgonzola cream sauce.
The wine is also a good match with certain traditional pasta dishes, such as bucatini Bolognese and classic spaghetti and meatballs.
Today’s recipe is a longtime favorite that pairs beautifully with such a suave cabernet.
I recommend serving sweet potatoes — preferably as wedges baked until tender — alongside, as they will heighten the connection with the wine and are delicious with the butter, too.
Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Butter
Makes 4 to 6 servings
½ cup (1 cube) butter, at room temperature
3 ounces Gorgonzola, at room temperature
1 teaspoon minced rosemary needles
— Black pepper in a mill
1 beef tenderloin, about 2 ½ pounds
— Kosher salt
5 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 cup robust red wine
1 small rosemary sprig
1 2-inch-by-1-inch strip of lemon zest
2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
First, make the Gorgonzola butter. To do so, put the butter into a small bowl and add the Gorgonzola, half the rosemary needles and several generous turns of black pepper. Mix very well with a fork and turn out onto a sheet of wax paper or parchment. Carefully shape into a small log, wrap it tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.
Set the tenderloin on a clean work surface and season all over with salt and pepper. Put the garlic, grated lemon zest, thyme leaves and remaining rosemary needles into a small bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix together. Rub the mixture into the surface of the beef, set in a nonreactive container and refrigerate for at least three hours and as long as overnight.
To finish, remove the beef from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Set the beef on a rack in a roasting pan and set it on the middle oven rack. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cook for about 15 minutes per pound for rare and 20 minutes per pound for medium rare. Remove from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 130 to 145 degrees. Cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
While the beef cooks, prepare the sauce. To do so, put the wine, rosemary sprig and strip of lemon zest into a small saucepan and add several generous turns of black pepper. Set over high heat and reduce by two-thirds, until there is just one-third cup remaining. Add the beef stock and reduce by two-thirds again. Use tongs to remove and discard the rosemary sprig and zest. Season with salt, taste and correct for salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
After the beef has rested, cut it into ¼-inch thick slices. Ladle a bit of sauce onto individual plates, set the sliced beef on top, spoon the remaining sauce over it and top each portion with a coin of Gorgonzola butter.