With the weather finally starting to turn the corner and the sun staying out a bit later it is clear that Spring is nearly upon us. We’ll start to venture outside a bit more and we’ll put away the heavy winter coats for another year. One of the true delights of the changing season is the arrival of the freshly reared, flavoursome Spring lamb; surely an event worth savouring with the right bottle. Depending on the preparation, the right wines will vary widely.
"One of the true delights... is the arrival of the freshly reared, flavoursome Spring lamb"
After the heavy wines which saw us through the winter, pairing with lamb is an opportunity to shake things up a bit and spring (pun intended, obviously) for something a bit lighter and fresher. Bright wines to pair with subtle flavours and bring out the best in your marinade or seasoning; wines with just enough power to cut through the silky texture of the meat; it is always a delicate balance to strike but when you get just the right wine for your roast leg, the effect is truly spectacular.
Rioja is of course a classic and with a gentle, slow roasted joint, you will fine few more elegant matches than a well-aged example such as the Viña Tondonia or a soft youthful wine (the Marques de Murrieta Reserva 2009 springs to mind) alongside the succulent, flavourful lamb. In a similar vein, a balanced, floral red burgundy with good purity of fruit and acidity can be a great match with a rich, slow-roast leg or shoulder. This pairing is an example of flavour and body matching one another par excellence. For those with a subtle and balance-driven palate, it is undeniably the way to go.
When the weather is properly nice and warm, the most satisfying way to cook your lamb is surely outside over the coals. A butterflied and boned leg can be marinated overnight and when grilled to medium-rare perfection it is one of the most satisfying dishes and a true indication that Spring has sprung. The charred intensity demands something a bit bolder that your average Rioja or Pinot Noir so look to a full-blooded Rhone; northern or southern, to stand up to those deeper flavours and textures.
Naturally, you can never go wrong with a classic Bordeaux. For the more delicate preparations, a mature bottle will be the best way to go while a richer vintage or a younger wine will compliment a more intense recipe. Look forward to enjoying this seasonal delight and celebrate the arrival of Spring with the perfect bottle for you.