Roast Leg of Lamb … Perfection with a Saint Julien

Pairing: Roast Leg of Lamb Paired with a 2000 Château Lagrange Saint Julien Bordeaux

Food:  We don’t eat that much meat. Seafood and chicken are the more common  proteins we consume. However, when we do eat meat, lamb is our absolute favorite. And we are most fortunate to be able to buy our lamb from a farmer with a small flock just down the road from us.  The flavor and texture of grass-fed lamb can’t be beat. We remove the meat from the bone in one piece, flatten it out, generously spread a  mixture of olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, and roll and tie up the meat. Then rub more of the oil and herb mixture onto the outside of the trussed meat. Brown the rolled meat thoroughly on all sides in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat on the cooktop. Place on a rack in a pan and roast in the oven at 325° F until the interior temperature reaches about 135° F for medium rare meat (about 45 minutes for a 3 lb roast). Baste every 15 minutes. Let stand for about 15 more minutes while you finish the vegetables (roast potatoes and beans) and gravy. Serve. My … that is extraordinary.

Roast Lamb with Saint Julien.

Wine:  Even though  a number of wines pair nicely with roast lamb (see suggestions below), one could make the case that red Bordeaux was created with lamb in mind. Saint-Julien is one of four renowned wine villages that comprise the Medoc wine region of Bordeaux. It is located on the “left bank” of the Gironde River Estuary where the soils and proximity to both the estuary and the cool Atlantic breezes combine to create almost ideal conditions to produce the perfect wine. At least that’s what winemakers there would say, but given the price some of these wines command, others might share that same view. Château Lagrange is made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, but also contains Merlot and Petite Verdot.

This wine was a generous present a while back from my oenophile brother. He gave careful instructions to leave it in our cellar for several years to let it mature properly. Well, we drank it this weekend. What a gift! Thanks, Bro!

Saint Julien Bordeaux

Tasting Notes:  Medium purple hue (lighter and browner due its age -18 years old). Fragrant aroma of blueberry and leather. A very complex and layered flavor of black currant, blueberry and hedgerow (service berry, lingonberry, and cranberry), all structured with leather, smoke, and some tannin. Note: this wine benefited from decanting it 1 and 1/2 hours before dining. This allowed the strong tannins inherent to this wine to dissipate a bit and allow the complex fruits to be more present. We were still sipping it hours after the meal was over and the flavor was even better. An amazing wine and perfectly matched to the flavor of the lamb, garlic and rosemary.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Roast Lamb: Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile), Rioja (Spain), Hermitage (France), Zinfandel (California)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Red Bordeaux:  Roast Chicken or Duck, Steak, Pheasant, Venison, Blue Cheese

More About:  Guide to Saint Julien

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An Autumnal Delight … Roast Pheasant Paired with a Red Bordeaux

Pairing:  Roast Pheasant Paired with 2009 Chateau Lyonnat Lussac-Saint Emilion

Food:  As summer begins to fade, we begin to look forward to autumn and its associated sights, smells,  textures, and … tastes. Roast pheasant is a dish we always think of as an autumnal meal. Our recipe for roast pheasant comes from the L.L Bean Game and Fish Cookbook, a favorite of source of ours for many years. It involves finely mincing (by hand or food processor) 2 shallots, 4 mushrooms, dried basil, dried tarragon, and fresh parsley and thoroughly combining them all with a little brandy and a few Tbs of butter forming a thick paste. With your fingers, carefully tuck the mixture under the skin of the breast and thigh meat. Rub any remaining paste over the outside of the bird. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the bird in a heavy skillet at 350F. Remove the bird and deglaze the pan using some of the wine and chicken stock. Boil down until the sauce is to the desired consistency. As a final touch, swirl in a Tbs of butter and/ or veal demi-glace. Serve the sauce over the meat and mashed potatoes. Yikes … is that good! You bet.

Roast Pheasant

Wine:  The vineyards that surround the town of Saint-Emilion are among the most prestigious in all of the Bordeaux wine region. Some might say in all of France.  Lussac-Saint-Emilion is considered to be one of four “satellites” of Saint-Emilion, all four of these sub-regions lying north of Saint-Emilion. Lussac-Saint-Emilion is located in the far northeastern corner of Bordeaux. Merlot is the dominant grape variety in all of Saint-Emilion and is often combined with a little Cabernet Franc in the making of these distinguished and distinctive wines. Many of the wines from fabled Saint-Emilion wineries are in high demand throughout the world and get top dollar on the market … sometimes hundreds of dollars per bottle. The Chateau Lyonnat from Lussac is far more reasonable … $25.  Click on the link for tips on finding inexpensive Bordeaux wines.

Lussac St Emilion with Pheasant

Tasting Notes:  Ruby red color. Rich aromas of black currant and leather. Big, round flavors of both black and red currant, leather and more subtle tastes of black pepper and spice. All tied together with mellow tannins. Glad we decanted the wine two hours before eating. As we progressed through the meal, the mushroom and herb flavors of the pheasant enhanced further the elements of the wine. And the finish carried on and on. This … is Bordeaux! And this … is a great pairing! (mmmm …)

Other Food That Pairs Well with This Wine: Roast Duck and Confit, Venison, Roast Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, or Beef

Other Wines That Pair Well with This Food:  Barolo (Italy), Red Burgundy (France), Crozes-Hermitage (Northern Rhone), Pomerol (Bordeaux)

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Sunday Dinner … Roast Chicken with a Red Bordeaux

Pairing:  French Roast Chicken paired with a 2005 Balthus Bordeaux Superieur from Château de Reignac

Food:  Every family has a favorite food that everyone loves and doesn’t mind having again and again over the year. In our household, that beloved meal is French Roast Chicken served with mashed potatoes, peas, and rich brown gravy. Maybe some pie for dessert. Now that’s comfort food! To make a simple french roast chicken, stuff the cavity of a whole chicken (about 4-5 lbs) with 1-2 Tbs of tarragon and some cut-up onion, carrot, and celery. Sprinkle more tarragon on the outside of the bird, along with generous shakes of paprika. Lay three strips of bacon across the breast. Roast in a 425 F oven for 30 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 325 F for another hour or so until done. Baste the bird periodically with beef stock while it is roasting. Make the gravy with the pan drippings from the chicken and the basting beef stock.


Wine:  A few weeks ago I wrote about the versatility of Roast Pork as a food that goes well with so many different types of wine, both red and white. The same thing is true of Roast Chicken. Favorite pairings include Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cote du Rhône. This past Sunday, we decided to try a Red Bordeaux. Bordeaux is more commonly paired with strong flavored, rich meats like lamb and beef. It turns out to be a delicious accompaniment to roast chicken as well. This Château de Riegnac Bordeaux Superieur is made from 100% Merlot from old-growth vineyards north and east of the city of Bordeaux.  And, it’s worth noting that 2005 was a fabulous vintage year for the Bordeaux region.



Tasting:  Rich, lush ripe dark fruits (notably blueberry and raspberry), along with leather and chocolate are all offered on the nose. Amazing! On the palate, much of these same things can be tasted in a true medley of flavors. The fine tannins are present, but not at all overwhelming. And a pleasant taste of black currant and cedar lingers on the finish. Wow! An exceptional bordeaux.

Other Wines that Pair Well with This Food:  Pinot Noir, GSM, Beaujolais, Chardonnay, Dolcetto

Other Food that Pairs Well with This Wine:  Roast Lamb, Beef, Pheasant, Venison

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