Terms such as Appellation Contrôlée are well-recognised for wines, but did you know that the EU gives special status to high quality foods which are deemed to be specific to certain regions?
Lamb producers in Connemara proudly boast that the flavour is unique – a result of the hilly terrain, grasses, heathers and herbs, all enabled by the Atlantic climate. So special, in fact, that Connemara Hill Lamb is specially recognised and protected under a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), warranted by the EU.
Irish lamb is truly delicious this time of the year, especially when simply studded with rosemary sprigs and slow-roasted. A little food and wine matching really brings out its character.
Lamb is a favourite dish in many wine-producing regions. In Bordeaux, you will find lamb served roasted and rare, with mature red wines, where the earthy flavours marry beautifully. In summer, it will be enjoyed with a delicious rosé. In Rioja, you will be treated to lamb chops, which are often grilled over a fire of vine twigs. The South of France enjoys lamb stew, with tomato, olives and herbs. Go to Greece, and you will find it minced, in creamy aubergine-layered moussaka. South Africans enjoy lamb in delicious spicy fruity bobotie.
Whatever way you cook it, it is delightfully it is easy to match lamb with so many wines.
Ch. Bonnin Pichet Lussac St Emilion 2008. This classic Bordeaux, from a very good vintage would suit a roast leg of lamb. Enticing aromas of lead pencil, coffee, chocolate and dark fruit, followed by generous layers of ripe dark fruit, sweet vanilla, earthiness. The structure, balance and finish are really impressive. €12.99 at Molloys.
Il Bucco Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010 would be delicious with simple grilled lamb steaks. It’s a superb value, crowd-pleasing red wine, medium-bodied wine, soft and supple, with blackberry and spice. €11.70 in Jus de Vine, The Vintry, Nolans, Next Door, The Mill Maynooth, Cashel Wine Centre, Mac’s, 1601, Searsons.
Cepa Gavilan Ribera del Duero 2009 is a Spanish beauty. Smoky, animal character, layered with supple tannins and superb, intense dark fruit and spice. Treat yourself to this with inexpensive lamb shanks braised in tomato, with chorizo chunks, rosemary and butter beans. €19.95, at Corkscrew, Donnybrook Fair, Londis on SCR, Thomas’s, Redmonds.
Charmes de Magnol Rosé 2010 is a delicious Bordeaux rosé, with attractive floral aromas and a dry, generously fruity (red fruits) palate. Super with cold lamb. €13.99, from O’Brien’s, Jus De Vine, Next Door, Deveney’s.