Like much of the country I enjoyed lamb on Easter Sunday — a whole leg roasted with rosemary and garlic.
The classic match for lamb like this is aged Bordeaux but I do realise not many people have a stash of Cru Classé Margaux or Pauillac in the cupboard under the stairs.
If you like the idea of Bordeaux you will find better value in the off years of 2011 and 2012 but if you can stretch (or find) a 2009, 2008 or 2005 go for those instead.
Just avoid 2007, I’ve yet to taste one I like — even Ch Haut-Brion was disappointing.
I’ve recommended Château Lanessan 2012 here in the recent past (The Vintry, Jus de Vine, Mitchells) but if you are in Cork check in O’Donovans such as the one on Oliver Plunkett Street — I know that branch has some older wines including Château Gloria 2010 for €80 and Taylors 2003 Vintage Port for a similar price.
Most good independents (eg, Bradleys) will have some aged Bordeaux in stock but t I advise calling first to check.
The multiples tend not to have older Bordeaux but you never know, the better SuperValu shops like Fields in Skibb or Scallys in Clonakilty are always worth a call.
Good Cabernet from California or Coonawarra would also work but don’t fret about age, it is actually a fairly flexible meat and even works well with full flavoured ripe Ribera del Duero.
Lamb is a speciality in the villages on Ribera’s high mountain plain to the north of Madrid.
They like milk-fed lamb best and simply roast it just rubbed with olive oil and salt.
To the east in Rioja you will hear winemakers in Mendoza, the Douro, Corbières, Gigondas, Maipo and Chianti all claim their wine matches the lamb best.
Chocolate is the other food you will likely be eating at the moment and I recommend Mas Amiel from Maury in Roussillon which you will find in Bubble Brothers (bubblebrothers.ie).
O’Briens should have some nice old Banyuls or Vin Doux Natural Rivesaltes from Gérard Bertrand — also delicious.
Failing that Bertha’s Revenge Sloe Gin is excellent and Port is as comforting at Easter as it is at Christmas.
Recommendations this week don’t cover Bordeaux but alternatives from Spain, Portugal and Argentina plus an inexpensive aperitif white, which could be mixed with Cassis or Sloe Gin to make Kir.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Aldi have some new wines on the shelves this month — last week I mentioned their new Kiwi Grüner Veltliner and South African Chenin Blanc.
Alvarinho/Albariño is thought to originate in the Vinho Verde region to the north of Porto, this is a relatively rare example for under a tenner — fragrant fruity peach aromas, textured and juicy.
This is from Navarra to the east of Rioja, who thankfully these days seem to be focusing more on their native grapes after a couple of decades pushing their Merlot and Cabernet (I’m not convinced the climate is warm enough).
This however has some Merlot mixed in with Tempranillo and Garnacha.
It works well — sweet berry fruit aromas, touch of chocolate.
From an organic vineyard, currently converting to bio-dynamics (a more extreme version of organics that follows the moon phases).
Mainly French oak aged and at a very good price — ripe and supple with a creamy juicy quality, herbal and spice notes on the mid palate with a hint of chocolate.
Curious Wines have some good value from France and Spain.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Some of the young best lamb I’ve eaten was in Northern Spain, in Ribera del Durero on that high mountain plain north of Madrid.
Martin Berdego is very fairly priced for the quality and all wines have charm and decent intensity.
The Barrica is more fruit-driven, with lots of blackberry and cherry.
Poças is a small but solid port house and like most port houses these days, also makes table wine.
This is a a blend of classic port grapes including Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Touriga Franca, dark purple, lightly smoky spice aromas with dark fruits, supple, plummy.
Luigi Bosca has a number of brands at various prices, including the good value La Linda range, but it is worth spending extra to get that Argentinian Malbec intensity.
A rich purple with bright red and black fruit aromas and mocha and spice notes.
The chocolatey Cab Sauv is also recommended.