What’s the best wine for roast lamb?
Is it just me, or does Easter seem to get closer and closer to Christmas – even though it is actually quite late this year?
Certainly, in the shops, Easter eggs seem to overlap now with mince pies and hot cross buns. Once an eagerly expected delicacy available only a couple of weeks before Good Friday they now seem to be a permanent fixture.
Be that as it may, Easter is a time for celebration, regardless of your religious persuasion and with good things to eat, you need good things to drink.
Pinot Noir is the lamb wine ‘par excellence’ when we’re talking normally roasted meat. However, with slow roast lamb, where the flavours have concentrated and deepened, a mid-range Rioja does the trick with greater success. Cune Crianza 2015, aged for 18 months in French and American oak, packs enough punch to match the slow-roast flavours. Made from mainly Tempranillo grapes, with some Garnacha and Mazuelo, this fruity red has soft, velvety tannins, with some vanilla and spice from the American oak – the traditional oak used in the Rioja region. £9.99 in Majestic and Morrisons.
Roast leg or Rack of Lamb is perfectly partnered by a traditional red Burgundy, made from 100 percent Pinot Noir. The raspberry and strawberry fruit flavours, combined with mid tannins and light oak, match the delicate flavours of roast lamb, served pink. The Couvent des Jacobins 2016, produced by Louis Jadot, is deep flavoured and complex, with fruit and a touch of spice. It’s £14.50-£16.50 at your local Nisa store and some specialist wine shops, such as Fareham Wine Cellar, or Noble Green Wines in London.
Louis Jadot is one of the largest and most famous wine producers and negociants in the Burgundy wine-growing region, masters in the production and ageing of fine wines. Couvent des Jacobins is extraordinary quality for the price, with a superb balance between fruit and tannin. Grapes are sourced from different growers in both parts of the Cote d’Or and a proportion of the wines are aged for 18 months in oak, prior to blending and bottling in the Jadot cellars in Beaune.
Another superb and affordable red Burgundy is the Chateau de Santenay 2016 Vieilles Vignes from the lesser known Mercurey sub-region. Deep ruby colour, with great concentration and structure, balanced tannins, gentle oak and long, satisfying finish. £18.62 from the online merchant Quality Wines.
Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.