A time for lamb and chocolate

Neil Courtier

Neil Courtier

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Brighter evenings, warmer spring weather and we are moving towards the Easter weekend. It’s time to start planning menus, devising shopping lists, with maybe spring lamb and, of course, chocolate will be firmly in our thoughts.

Looking for good value fizz? Let’s start with Philippe Michel – Cremant du Jura 2014 France, £7.49 Aldi – 100% Chardonnay, with zesty appeal, Golden Delicious apple and some buttery richness, too.

From the Loire, Taste the Difference – Cremant de Loire NV, £11 Sainsbury’s – based on Chenin Blanc, the balance Chardonnay, this is crisp and refreshing, with a rich-core and small, lively, invigorating bubbles.

Youthful, dry, racy white wines provide the cutting edge required to work as an aperitif, or to accompany fish. Marques de Almeida –Taste the Difference – Godello 2015 Bierzo – Spain, £8.50 Sainsbury’s has an abundance of lime, grapefruit and mineral notes that tick all the boxes. A cracking example that would also work with grilled fish. Dourthe – Reserve – Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Bordeaux – France, £11.99 (£9.99 mix six) Majestic – textbook Bordeaux Sauvignon; aromatic, lemony, with a hint of tropical fruit. On the palate, the wine’s zesty, with flavours of grapefruit and tangy acidity. Perfect with asparagus and seafood.

Roast lamb, the traditional choice for Easter Sunday lunch, calls for a Merlot-based Bordeaux and there are some good value bottles out there that will do the trick very nicely indeed. Check out Château de Passedieu 2014 Cotes de Bourg – Bordeaux – France, £8.99 Waitrose. Great value here – berry-fruits, plums, with some youthful grip. Roast lamb, beef or duck would accompany this wine.

Château Pey la Tour – Reserve du Chateau 2013 Bordeaux Superieur – Franc,e £11.50 The Wine Society has an impressive purity of fruit – plums and blackcurrants, supple tannins, good structure, well-measured oak and a lingering finish.

From the southern hemisphere, try Hawkes Bay, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc 2014 New Zealand, £6.99 Aldi which effortlessly combines damson, dark-cherries, a hint of chocolate and smoky oak. A very accessible, drinkable ‘Bordeaux blend’.

Chocolate and wine can work together really well. Taylor’s First Estate Reserve Port, £12 Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Majestic has the backbone to stand-up to dark chocolate or chocolate-based desserts.

-- Neil is a freelance wine educator and writer. He runs wine courses and tutored tastings for groups and individuals, in Bury and Cambridge. More details: 01359 270318/grapesense1@aol.com/grapesense.com