Monday, November 3, 2014

Certified Angus Beef and Wine at Bogle Winery

I was recently invited on a trip to the Sacramento area with Certified Angus Beef, learning about what the brand and organization is all about while eating plenty of beef (Certified Angus, of course). As part of the tour, we had lunch at the lovely Bogle Winery in the Sacramento Delta.
A bit about Bogle: it is a family-owned winery and vineyard. The current owners are sixth-generation farmers and 3rd-generation winemakers. The family settled 20 miles from where the vineyard is now back in 1870, at Grand Island. They were growing produce and selling them to the gold rush people. Their grandfather moved to the current area during depression and started planting Petit Syrah back in 1968, being the first to plant grapes in the area. First, he grew them for other wineries but 10 years later started bottling for themselves with Petit Syrah and Chenin Blanc. When the grandfather passed away, their father decided to convert all their acreage to wine grapes.
Not a bad setting for lunch, eh?
For lunch, we had some coulottes. This is the cap of the top sirloin, which is a highly marbled cut and acts like tri-tip. If you've gone to a Brazilian steakhouse like Fogo, you'd know this as the picanha. 
With lunch were three bottles of wine including the Bogle Chardonnay. The chardonnay is aged half in barrel and half in stainless steel. It's crisp with nice yellow fruit notes. It's a lovely wine the retails only $9! 
After lunch, we headed to the barrel room for some wine pairing and to learn more about beef grading.
The most noticeable difference between the different USDA beef grades is, of course, the marbling. As you can see below, USDA Select and Choice beef barely has any marbling, while the Certified Angus Beef and Prime has plenty.
What we learnt: USDA graders look at the rib eye between the 12th and 13th rib - the first rib eye. Each of the animal's side (right and left) is graded independently, but the entire side is graded based on this rib. They grade not only marbling abundance but texture of the marbling.
Now, marbling-wise USDA prime and Certified Angus Prime is the same, but the Certified Angus has additional specifications like maturity level, seen by the ossification of the bone.
They also look for dark cutters, which happen due to high pH. This is usually because of anxiety/stress and the resulting meat tastes livery or metallic. We don't want that! Basically, farmers try to make their cows happy and not stressed out. It's not just for ethical reason (though there's that, too), but the meat won't taste good otherwise.
After our "class", we turned to some beef and wine pairing. The best part! We had the Bogle Cabernet with a center cut filet.

The Bogle cab has lots of tannin and notes of cassis and cherry. I like the mouthfeel on this one and the vanilla aroma. The wine was aged in American oak barrel and it's another great value at $11-13 retail!

The center cut filet is the tenderloin, and it's the most prized cut of the cow. Why? Because there are only 3 lbs of this cut per cow. As the name would suggest, this cut is also very, very tender.

For our next pairing, we had a red wine blend called the Phantom ($16-18) with the rib eye.
The rib eye is the most robust cut and packs a lot of flavor. These days, restaurants like to serve it with the bone attached (served this way, it's called the cowboy steak).

The tannins in the Phantom cuts the fat from the rib eye. Tannins have a drying effect, but also allow red wines to age for decades. On the other hand, diacetyl (present in varying levels in all alcoholic beverages) create a buttery smell and sensation. At low levels it creates that slippery, buttery mouthfeel, or at high levels (think buttery Chardonnay) it really evokes that butter sensation.

The winemaker also brought us some rose they just finished harvesting. Fizzy grape juice!
We spent a lovely afternoon at Bogle, and I certainly learned a lot about USDA beef grading. Certified Angus Beef doesn't sell any product to consumers, they're in charge of certifying the beef for producers who want the CAB label on their products and to educate the public about Angus beef.


Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital