I write to you this evening having just returned from a sunset walk in fair Brookline, MA. Here in the New England, we are in the midst of another stunning fall. Little by little, I am making my inevitable return back to the kitchen, red wine, and oh, and my blog.
While out on my evening promenade, I stepped into one of the lovely little local wine shops and found a bottle that piqued my interest. It’s called “Monte Antico” and it’s produced by Neil Empson and Franco Bernabei. From the little bit of research I’ve done, the wine is a blend consisting mostly of Sangiovese with a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The importer and proprietor of the estate, Neil Empson, has collaborated with winemaker Bernabei to create a juicy quaffable wine at an affordable price. I paid $11.99 for the bottle.
Monte Antico is a tasty wine. It has plenty of dried red cherry flavor, and on the palete it retains a relatively high level of acidity making it delicious with the smoked trout that I’m eating and trying not get on the keyboard. I often find Sangiovese to be a little on the thin and acidic side. For Monte Antico, the addition of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot give it a pleasant plumpness that fleshes out the sinewy character that is typical of Sangiovese. The tannins are fading though still evident. With the right tomato-based sauce, cured meats or sausages, they will be hardly distinguishable. There are also some nice leathery and sandalwood aromas that evoke the fall – think crunchy leaves underfoot and smoke coming from the fireplace chimney. It spent one year in an oak cask before being released and though the oak is well integrated, after three years in bottle the flavors of the barrel are beginning to dominate the wine, but only slightly so. I would venture to say that the wine is about at its peak, which makes it all the more pleasurable to be knocking back a glass or two this evening.
Look for it on the shelves at your local wine shop and treat yourself to a home-cooked Bolognese sauce. I will be enjoying this combination later this evening when my better half returns from a night of rehearsing. Following is my recipe that has won rave reviews from friends recently. Cheers!
Ragu Bolognese Majestica
- 1/2 lb. ground bison
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 1/2 lb. 80/20 ground beef
- 2 carrots chopped
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 or 4 stalks of fresh thyme
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper
- sweat the garlic, onion, celery, and carrot in a large Dutch oven over low heat until tender but not brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the bay leaf, thyme, meat and continue to cook over low heat until almost dry (about two hours). With a spatula or wooden spoon, work the meat into small pieces stirring every twenty minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in tomato paste, milk, cinnamon until all ingredients are well incorporated. Add more milk to achieve the desired consistency.
- Bring ragu to a simmer. Adjust final seasoning with salt and pepper and serve over pasta of your choice.