As anyone who knows me will attest, I like my food and in particular lamb. Whether minced in sheperds pie or a roasted joint I love the flavours that good lamb can give.
So, here we are now in what is currently and thankfully quite a mild winter, but with days that are nonetheless a bit nippy and the evenings draw in quickly still. Of a dark and cold evening there is not much better than great roasted food and a great wine paired with it. Taking the time to savour your food and wine is one of lifes pleasures and one that many of us with our busy lives don’t always do as often as we’d like.
For those evenings when you can take your time then this makes for a great meal, and in keeping with taking things slowly and savouring there is nothing better than local lamb that has been slow-roasted, and here is a lovely Jamie Oliver recipe that shows off the lamb to its best and with that I have recommended 2 wines for you, a Spanish red and a Californian white.
Jamie Oliver says, “In this recipe I’m going to show you how utterly incredible a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb can be. In exchange I’d like you to buy quality local lamb that’s had the appropriate amount of hanging time. I’m going to let the meat speak for itself and not add much to it, just a simple sauce made from all the goodness in the tray.”
In keeping with Jamies recommendation a superb choice of lamb would be Cowdray Farm lamb that comes from Lleyn sheep that graze at the foot of the South Downs on the Estate. Their Lamb Shoulder has been awarded a Gold Star in the Great Taste Awards 2011-2012, so is a perfect choice for this meal.
So, onto the wine. First up the more usual wine with lamb; the red.
From Bierzo in the Castilla y Leon region of Spain is the
Cuatro Pasos, Mencia, 2010, Bodegas Martin Codax.
Mencia is the grape variety and one you may not have heard of, but it is perhaps better known to you as Jaen, its cousin in Portugal. The two are virtually identical as recent DNA testing has proved.
What makes this wine and indeed this grape so good is that Mencia just has a natural affinity with lamb with its flavours and style complimenting beautifully those of the lamb.
There have been a few articles of late by respected wine critics such as Andrew Jefford trying to explain that wines from certain countries and areas within those countries match more naturally with a food type and that food type is the one most indiginous to the area and Castilla y Leon is best known for its roast suckling pig and its lamb.
The wines from appelations within Castilla y Leon are Cigales, Bierzo, Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro, and these match well with most roasted meats accordingly.
The Cuatro Pasos Mencia shows savoury herbs, light pepper, spice and smooth oak flavours that blend well with fresh cherry, plum and blackcurrant fruits to make a complex and thoroughly enjoyable wine. This wine shows tremendous value at £9.99.
A white wine that you can pair with lamb is one that offers good structure and complexity and is usually one that has spent some time in oak to round out the flavours and add the necessary gravitas.
One such wine is Chardonnay. Now I know many people are bored rigid with Chardonnay and have bad memories of some of the new world Chardonnays a decade ago that tasted more of wood than anything else and made you wonder whether you would get splinters from the wine! But times have changed and you can now find some really tasty Chardonnays that are well balanced and really add something to the dinner table and the meal.
My choice today is
Heritage Reserve Chardonnay from De Loach.
As an aside they also do a lovely Pinot Noir that you really should also try, it’s lovely!
What this wine offers is a wonderful, easy drinking smooth soft style running throughout with subtle oak, apple, butterscotch and citrus fruit flavours with a hint of creamy vanilla and good acidity creating a balanced wine. It is very more-ish!