Spring lamb is a traditional English dish for Easter, and the French provide some of the best wines around to go with it.
Not having a sweet tooth, I don’t take much interest in Easter eggs, but if prevailed upon to nibble a few bits of them after a meal, I would opt for a modest glass of good, chocolate-friendly port to sip at the same time.
But first to dry French red, the perfect partner for roast lamb, although not for mint sauce, as the vinegary acidity would undoubtedly spoil the wine’s flavour.
I was pleased to get a chance to taste Chateau Reysson Haut-Medoc 2008 (13 per cent, £15, Oddbins), and not only because it comes from a part of France that shares the same Roman name as Chichester – Noviomagus.
The origins of the chateau date back to the Middle Ages, rather than Roman times. This is a lovely, complex, rich red, with stacks of ripe black fruit and hints of black pepper and cigar-box, plus a silky texture.
This will be my own Easter Sunday choice if I can persuade my wife to slave over a hot stove turning out that leg of lamb, crispy roast potatoes, and so on. Recommended.
Also welcome on the Easter dinner table will be Chateau Pey La Tour 2008 (14 per cent, £9.75, Wine Society), with its deep purple colour and fulsome plum and blackcurrant tastes and touch of cedar.
This is a blend of 95 per cent merlot, four per cent cabernet sauvignon and one per cent petit verdot, and it comes from the prestigious Dourthe Bordeaux producers.
A third French offering comes in the form of an elegant white, to serve up as an aperitif or with starters, rather than alongside the lamb: Dourthe Croix des Bouquets Graves 2010 (12.5 per cent, £10, Oddbins).
Seventy per cent semillon and 30 per cent sauvignon, it has delicate floral aromas, and a light, fresh grapefruit flavour, and would also go well with fish dishes.
If there are any Easter egg remains around, wheel them out to go with a beaker of Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2005 (20 per cent, from £13.79, widely available). Dark, deeply fruity and robust, this would also complement a nice piece of Stilton – my own personal preference.
LBV port is ready to drunk now, and unlike vintage port doesn’t need decanting. It lasts two or three weeks after opening, Again, unlike the vintage variety.
As a tailpiece to this column, a mention for a couple of unusual bottles from the Wine Society – one imported from Turkey and the other from Slovenia.
The society has a long tradition of straying off the beaten track to find wines from ‘unlikely’ sources.
Many are rejected for one reason or another, such as being badly made or just poor value for money.
Slovenia’s white wines have not often left the country in the past, but Sipon Furmint 2010 (12 per cent, £9.95) has made it to the UK, thanks to the society.
The furmint grape was made famous by Hungary’s Tokay – this version has a fascinating, light, soft character, and is worth looking out for.
Kalecik Karasi 2009 (13.5 per cent, £8.50) is the society’s first import from Turkey.
It reminded me a little of pinot noir, the grape made famous by French burgundies, with its cherry tastes, although made from the grape which provides its name.
Full-bodied and balanced, it’s a nice wine, although it has to be said without that distinctive and admittedly more expensive French elegance.