Wine matching: Lamb with spring vegetables

Foillard Morgon Classique 2013
The recipe

1 kg best end neck of lamb

2 tablespoons plain flour

2 teaspoons herbes de Provence

250 g streaky bacon, diced

4 tablespoons olive oil

350 g baby onions, peeled

2 leeks, trimmed and sliced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

100 ml dry white wine

500 ml chicken stock

1 bouquet garni

250 g baby carrots, trimmed

250 g shelled petit pois

salt and pepper

Serves: 4-6

Preheat the oven to 180c. Trim any large pieces of thick fat from the lamb and discard. Cut meat into 2.5 cm cubes and place in a bowl. Combine the herbes de Provence, flour, salt and pepper and add to the lamb, toss well to coat.

Heat half the oil on in a flameproof casserole and fry the bacon over a high heat until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add the lamb to the pan (in batches) and fry until evenly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Add remaining oil to the pan and gently fry the onions, leeks and garlic over a low heat for 10 minutes until softened. Return the lamb and bacon to the pan and add the wine, stock and bouquet garni. Bring to the boil and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 hour, then stir in the carrots, return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook for a final 15 minutes.

Matching wines

Domaine Le Roc ‘La Folle Noire d’Ambat’ 2013 (Oddbins, £11.00)

As a rule, red wine works better than white with lamb. To come up with an enjoyable match, consider how it’s cooked. Roasting it or grilling it at a high temperature creates intense flavour, so choose a full-bodied red; cooking it gently in a broth as in this recipe and you’ll want something more medium-bodied. When cooking delicate new season lamb this way you could even go as light as a flavoursome rosé such as Chinon or Bordeaux clairet.

Pinot Noir would be a classic red option, but have you ever tried a Fronton? It’s made near Toulouse from the rare Négrette grape which imparts the most amazing fragrance. This is a classic example from a family-owned estate with aromas of pot-pourri, rose and cinnamon with cherry and cranberry flavours underneath. Give it a try if you fancy something a bit different.

Domaine de Torraccia Rouge 2011 (Yapp, £13.95)

Little-known varieties or unusual regions are often where the best value is to be found, so here is another esoteric choice – this time from Porto-Vecchio, southern Corsica. It’s primarily made from local varieties Nielluccio and Sciacarello, alongside the Rhône stalwarts Grenache and Syrah. The estate was established in the 1960s by Nevers aristocrat Christian Imbert after many years spent in Chad as a spice trader. The estate is farmed organically and now managed by his son Marc.

It has an intensely herbal nose of thyme and bay which chimes nicely with the herbs in the dish. Though pale in colour it’s surprisingly punchy in flavour, with a savoury, earthy side that will work well with lamb, particularly if you’re using a slightly older animal.

Jean Foillard Morgon 2013 (Les Caves de Pyrène, £17.99)

Beaujolais has enjoyed a renaissance over the past decade. It’s one of the epicentres of the natural wine movement, where producers farm organically, pick by hand and eschew any additives. Jean Foillard works in this way, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest producers in Beaujolais today.

One of the most appealing features of this dish is the freshness of the spring vegetables, so it feels right to drink a young, vibrant wine alongside it. His 2013 Morgon has just hit the shelves and it’s deliciously drinkable already. It has the bright astringency, piquant acid and juicy fruit of fresh redcurrants. Alongside beautifully pure aromas of wild strawberries it also has a distinctly floral, almost grassy aspect that will help it pair brilliantly with this dish.

Based on a recipe by Louise Pickford. First published in Living France magazine.