What better excuse than a birthday to cook up something delicious & pop open wines that I've been DYING to open. In honor of Richie's 28th bday, I braised some free range lamb shanks in wine, stock, celery, onions, garlic, tomatoes, basil & oregano for about 9 hours. I took the lamb out of the braising liquid & reduced it by 2/3 to make a rich & savory sauce. On the side I served cauliflower that I roasted in the oven with cream, wine, garlic & onions. It almost came out like risotto. This meal called for something special, something earthy & spicy. So I popped open a 1995 Tinto Pesquera from Ribera del Duero, Spain & a 1997 Paterno II from Azienda Agricola Il Paradiso in Tuscany.
The Pesquera was laden with a mysterious spice & dense with earthy aromas. It smelled of dark, dried soil & rocky clay. The aroma was thick with clove, cinnamon bark, dried fennel seed, lavender & dried plum. The palate had mellowed over time. I could tell that upon release this baby was a little monster. Its tannins were soft & near disappearing, but when sipped with a bite of lamb, oh ....my. A wonderful pairing. The wines dried fruit & spice played off the gaminess of the lamb in a terribly good way.
I thought it couldn't get any better, but then I tasted the 1997 Paterno II. Oh....my....goodness. I haven't lucky enough to taste enough wines for so called "Classic" vintages. Not as much as I would like anyway. If this wine is any indication then everything you have read about the '97 vintage in Tuscany is without a doubt true. The first sniff of my glass was thick with barnyard, which gave way to fennel spice, violet, rosemary, dried currant, light graphite....it just went on & on! On the palate was a rich, super supple texture that caressed its way across & up & down my mouth. It gave flavors of blackberry, basil, clove, cinnamon, dried thyme, smoke & dried cherry. The finish just kept....on.....going. I was sad when I finished my glass. Because I knew there was no more to be had.