Stock up on Beef!

If you drive around the Central Coast of California, you are bound to see happy California cows roaming the hillsides. With so many health benefits to grass-fed and grass-finished beef, we are lucky to have local producers here in the Paso area.

My go to source is Templeton Hills Beef. I know the owners well and am really impressed with the care they put into growing and managing their herds. Another perk is they deliver for free within the Paso Robles area (see their website for shipping to other areas).

It has been a long time since I indulged in grass-fed beef and decided it was time to order a box of some of my favorite cuts. I also have been reading so much about the benefits of bone broth and the bone broth diet, that I also ordered a couple of boxes of bones and decided to experiment with broth.

My order included a mix of knuckle bones (also known as soup bones), leg bones, riblettes and neck bones. The trick to getting a true bone broth (versus the traditional beef broth) is to use lots of bones (with plenty of marrow and cartilage) and simmer for a very long time (12-24 hours).

I made three different batches:

  • BATCH ONE – The first batch used up the less meaty bones. For these I sprinkled with sea salt and roasted in the oven at 450F for an hour prior to starting the broth — the result was a darker broth with more intense flavor (I simply used carrots, onions, salt, bay leaves and water to create the broth that was simmered in a slow cooker for 24 hours)
  • BATCH TWO – This was a mix of VERY meaty soup bones, a few riblettes, and some not so meaty leg bones. This batch was made the same as batch one but simmered in a large stock pot on the stove for 12 hours. I decided it still needed some more time, so I refrigerated the pot overnight (I didn’t want to leave the gas stove on all night) and the next day let it simmer for an extra 12 hours.
  • BATCH THREE – This batch was spiced up with plenty of garlic, pepper, and several herbs. It was also exclusively the meaty soup bones. Since the soup bones looked like little roasts, I expected this to be the batch with the most beef flavor (and I had already learned the extra time really helps, so this one also receive 24 hours of simmering).

I was happy with all three batches but I do have to say I think roasting the bones first was well worth the effort. Another learning exercise is that the meat on the bones doesn’t seem to add a lot of extra flavor, so going with some cheaper bones isn’t a bad thing. For future batches, I think I’ll go with the basic ingredients and then just flavor with garlic, herbs and spices as I go.

For now, I plan on sipping away on the broth I made (my freezer is full) and hope it really does help me sleep better, lose weight, have better skin and reduce some wrinkles!

Stay tuned to hear about what I did with all the other cuts of grass-fed beef. Spoiler alert — there was wine involved with those meals.

Paso Robles Cabernet Franc

While some may view it as “the other Cabernet” or an “unappreciated grape”, to me Cabernet Franc is a star either standalone or as a component of a Bordeaux-style blend. It is after all the father of Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape known as the king of red wine.

Last month I attended a panel discussion about Cabernet Franc at the WiVI Central Coast Conference hosted by Wine Business Monthly. The panel was interesting and they selected three different wine regions with a winemaker from each region participating in the panel and discussing 3-4 Cabernet Francs.

 

Venue

This month the Paso Robles CAB Collective held their annual Trade and Media event “CABs of Distinction” at the bucolic Allegretto Resort in Paso Robles, California. CAB in this case stands for Cabernet and Bordeaux, with the collective “promoting the full potential of the Paso Robles appellation in producing superior quality, age-worthy, balanced, classic Cabernet Sauvignon and red Bordeaux varietals to consumers and media worldwide”.

CabFrancFlight

I attended the En Primeur & Current Vintage Walk-Around Tasting and was delighted with the wines I tasted. I was, however, saving my palate for the panel session “The Other Cabernet”. Needless to say the panel was discussing (and tasting) Cabernet Franc. This time the panel was moderated by Bob Bath, a CIA Sommelier, and the discussion was dedicated to wines produced in the Paso Robles AVA.

Consistent comments from the panel:

  • Cabernet Franc, as a noble grape, deserves more credit
  • Often plays the role of “Best supporting actor”
  • “Coming out” in Paso and around the world
  • Paso Cabernet Francs are not as herbaceous, tend to have a nice ripe quality
  • Cabernet Franc is the “ultimate foodie wine”
  • Does extremely well when planted in “choice” hilltop sites

The panel included the following winemakers who discussed the wines we tasted:

Jeremy indicated only 3 acres of Cabernet Franc are planted on the estate vineyard. As a winemaker he felt Paso was well suited to the varietal since the grape is able to ripen and have a nice level of acidity. The decision to make a standalone Cabernet Franc is made each vintage based on what the grape delivers. The 2013 Cabernet Franc Viking Vineyard Signature Series we tasted clearly made the cut. With less than 300 cases made, this wine is mostly sold to club members and guests of the tasting room.

For Damian, making an estate Cabernet Franc was accidental. When he purchased the property, the fruit was not sold, so he brought it into the winery. The Cabernet Franc on his property was grafted onto old Chardonnay vines planted on the top of a hill with calcareous soils. Although Damian had experience with Cabernet Franc in Europe, Astralia and Napa, he wasn’t really a fan until he worked with the estate Cabernet Franc. The black tea leaf appealed to his tastes and he has now made the varietal a part of his offering. In some vintages he will do a little blending. We tasted the 2013 Cabernet Franc which had a little Malbec in the blend — I would say this was the best wine of the ones tasted during the seminar.

As a 4th generation winemaker, it was interesting to hear from Anthony about a California winery that has been making wine for 99 years. They do not grow any Cabernet Franc in their Paso Robles vineyards, but instead purchase the fruit from other growers. The reason given for this was that the varietal often has vineyard disease such as red blotch. We tasted the 2012 San Simean Cabernet Franc — it must have been a very limited production since I couldn’t find it on-line.

Mike actually let us sample two wines. The 2013 Margene Cabernet Franc which was very approachable, a little floral — this one was made by his wife with a little creative blending and I would say it had lovely feminine notes. The second was 2012 Cask 7 Cabernet Franc and was 100% Cabernet Franc made in 100% new oak. I have to say it may need some time. Of the two I give my vote to Margene. Once again, both of these wines are likely very limited in production since I was unable to find them on-line.

Overall, I think the panel made some good points, and I do believe there are some very good Cabernet Francs in the Paso Robles area. I do, however, appreciate and enjoy Cabernet Franc from a couple of regions in France as well as Napa. While the panel all emphasized how “ripe” Paso Cabernet Franc could be and how less herbaceous it was, I actually like the clove, tea leaf and herbaceous side of the varietal. Don’t get me wrong, I love the violet, floral nose and some ripe fruit, I just think if you let it get too ripe you have lost the essence of the varietal.