For me one of the best things about Easter is the delicious Spring Lamb for Easter Sunday lunch, which in turnleadsme to flavoursome, structured reds such as the wines below.
When it comes to food-and-wine matching, there are very few of the old rules that can’t be bent or even broken to suit personal taste.
We no-longer slavishly obey the commandment to serve red wine with meat and white with fish, to do so would mean missing out on some truly delicious pairings such as Seared Tuna served with a lightly chilled fruity New Zealand Pinot Noir or even a Loire valley Chenin Blanc alongside Roast Pork and apple sauce. But for me, if one rule needs obeying, it is this: Roast leg of Lamb must, just must, be paired with 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.
In Bordeaux, I personally wouldlook to the softer, plumper wines of Bordeaux’s right bank, Pomerol St. Emilion are the perhaps the best-known of these, however wines from the neighbouring AOC Fronsac often offer a better price/quality ratio.Château Clos-du-Roy2008 (€24.99) from Fronsac will suit traditional roast lamb perfectly; very smooth and pure but with significant structure - it is particularly good after half an hour in a carafe/decanter.
The classic choice is not all about Bordeauxas the other 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.
Outside of these classics, another wine that would work well would be the Volpetto Chianti Riserva (€18.49) which is modern Chianti at its best, packed full of juicy, ripe red-berried fruit perfectly balanced with refreshing acidity, nice touch of oak and above all silky smooth. It’s a superbly made wine that will appeal to everyone, not just fans of Italian reds.
For my final recommendation I would choose the Reserve de Bonpas Côtes-du-Rhône (€10.99 down from €14.49) which is textbook Côtes du Rhône: medium bodied, lots of mixed wild berry fruit and super smooth. So very soft and easy to drink, this brilliant all-rounder would work equally well on it’s as with the Roast Lamb.