Ch. Larose Trintaudon Médoc went down a treat at my one-day wine course recently, and people licked their lips when I recommended lamb as a food pairing. If you’re lucky enough to have roast leg of Irish lamb on the menu, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to a perfect wine pairing. Roast leg of lamb, simply cooked with some chopped onion, a little water and salt and pepper (just like Mammy used to make), is a classic combination with reds from Bordeaux, Rioja, Ribera del Duero and the northern Rhône (such as Crôzes-Hermitage and St. Joseph). I like to slow-cook a leg of lamb over several hours, rendering it tender and juicy, allowing time for a (short) Sunday drive, or a bracing (but even shorter!) walk on the beach.
If you add rosemary or thyme to lamb, it makes a stunning combination with Chianti, especially Chianti Classico. The natural woody herb flavours are reflected in the wine, and the fattiness of the meat is offset by the vibrancy of Chianti Classico. Mint flavours work particularly well with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot from Chile’s Maipo, and also Coonawarra and Western Australia. If you like adding lots of garlic as well as herbs, I’d choose a gutsy wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon, including Fitou, Minervois or Corbières.
Jamie Oliver has everyone butterflying lamb these days. Opening up the lamb creates a greater surface area for marinades, and speeds up the cooking time. You could be adventurous and try Moroccan-spiced leg of lamb, which includes aromatic spices (think ginger, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and more) as well as honey and apricots. This would be amazing with a ripe fruity Cabernet or Merlot from California, Chile, Australia or New Zealand, an Argentinean Malbec or Zinfandel. For Greek-style lamb, cooked with oregano, tomatoes and Kalamata olives, I’d choose a similar range, but also adding in Languedoc wines. Or you could throw on a geansai and barbecue a butterflied leg.Pair these smoky flavours with an oaky red, particularly South African reds like Pinotage or Portuguese reds.
Bord Bia’s website has plenty of suggestions for cooking Irish lamb, including cooking times. It’s well worth a look.
Palha Canas Red Portugal is flavour of the month right now, particularly for reds, and Palha Canas is a tried and tested favourite. It’s a blend of numerous Portuguese varietals from the Setubal region. Rich, smooth and brimming with red and black berries, with a nice lick of tobacco and vanilla. Its piquant red fruits will cut through lamb nicely. About €15.75 from Molloys stores, www.molloys.ie, Martins and good independent wine shops.
Dame Guilherme Côtes du Rhône Villages ‘Plan de Dieu’ 2018 ‘Plan de Dieu’ is a plain where in the Middle Ages, people prayed to God that they wouldn’t be ambushed by bandits while crossing it. This terrain is similar to its show-off neighbour, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and the style is quite close – rich, full-bodied, warm, spicy style, bursting with ripe fruit, hints of liquorice, with a plush, velvety finish. Exceptional value and a popular favourite. €14.95.
St. Joseph, Dauvergne Ranvier 2017 this wine was rated a whopping 92 points by Robert Parker, and is currently on offer in Molloys stores & online – reduced from €23.95 to €18.95. This is a powerful, masculine, concentrated Syrah-based red; deeply-coloured, with meaty, savoury flavours offset against dark plums and blackberries, white pepper and earthy, savoury leathery notes.
Sadly, I think I may have bought the last of the Larose-Trintaudon for the moment, but a very good substitute would be Ch. Moulin Borie Listrac-Médoc at €24.95 (Molloys) which is rich, velvety and extremely complex, ranging from earthy forest floor to roast coffee and dried fruits. America’s Wine Enthusiast rated it 92 points!