Even a quick scan of the web may leave you with the impression that the sole job of the wine blogger is to highlight lesser–known grape varieties, unexpected vineyard locations and surprising food and wine matches.
But sometimes we need bring it back to the classics, and for me, Easter Sunday lunch is definitely one of these times. The traditional choice for the lunch is roast leg of spring lamb, which in my opinion just must, be paired with a structured, flavoursome red wine.
You should aim for a red wine with a decent tannin structure, good depth of fruit and a finish that can endure as long as the lamb itself. The goal is to have a wine with enough fruit and acidity to handle the robust flavours of the lamb, but not overpower it in the process.
The classic roast leg of lamb, bristling with garlic and rosemary has a natural affinity with two grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon (as in Bordeaux, and beyond), and Tempranillo (Rioja, and beyond). Cabernet’s minty, cassis hints work well here, but, then again, so do Rioja’s more mellow strawberry and vanilla. Take your pick.
Château Beau Rivage (€17.99 down from €20.99) is produced from vineyards located just outside Margaux, and has been making wines that in the last decade are easily of good Margaux quality. Winemaker, Christine Nadalie's family own one of the biggest barrel-making concerns in France and as a result, use the very best oak and lots of it - a luxury which is normally reserved only for the very big names. The result is a rich complex wine with lots of red and black fruits, toasty oak and wonderful tannins.
The classic choice though is not all about Bordeaux and another classic lamb friendly wine is Rioja. The perceived sweetness of most Riojas brought about by extended ageing in American oak is a lovely foil to roast lamb, especially when this includes rosemary and garlic. Monte Real Rioja Reserva (€13.99 down from €20.49) easily fits the bill, it has the lovely “vanilla meets berried fruit” character of traditional styles but there is extra richness and indeed more of a dark berry finish than any of its contemporaries.
For my final recommendation, I going to look at perhaps the most classic partner of all for roast Iamb; Blason-du-Rhône (€19.99 down from €34.49) is textbook Châteauneuf-du-Pape, bursting with deliciously ripe bramble fruit and super smooth, yet retaining a degree of elegance to the finish not often seen from this region.
Best of all, with our loyalty promotion running right through the weekend will receive 15% back onto to your loyalty card for any purchase of six bottles of these wines or indeed of any of the more than 90 wines on promotion. So why not drop in to your local O’Briens store this weekend and avail of this amazing offer.