Wines for Easter

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An Easter dinner table with wine

With Easter Sunday right around the corner, we start thinking of Roast Leg of Lamb or Prime Rib Roast for dinner. And with those glorious meats we want wines that not only pair well but that enhance the meal. Prime Cellar has recipes and suggested wine pairings for your Easter Sunday, or for that matter any day of the year you want to indulge in a luxurious roast.

The key to a successful roast, whether it be lamb or beef, is to attain an even cooking temperature throughout the roast. Just picture a rosy, juicy pink color that is consistent throughout the roast, without the unattractive brown or gray coloration near the outer surface.

The secret to achieving this perfection lies in: (1) allowing the meat to approach room temperature by removing the meat 2-4 hours before cooking; and (2) utilizing a “reverse sear” method of cooking. In the reverse sear method, the meat is slowly cooked at low temperature to the desired doneness, followed by a short “sear” at very high temperature to beautifully brown the outside of the roast.

Check out the recipes below and our recommended wine pairings selected from the Prime Cellar collection.

Roast Leg of Lamb

a roasted leg of lamb

Ingredients

  • 1 leg of lamb (bone-in or boneless); silver skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Remove leg of lamb from refrigerator and allow it to sit for 2-4 hours to permit it to come up to room temperature.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 275°F.
  3. Mix minced garlic with the olive oil and rub onto all sides of the leg of lamb. Season generously with kosher salt and black pepper.
  4. Place lamb on a rack in a roasting pan. Transfer to oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the middle of the leg of lamb registers 125-130°F for medium-rare, or 130-135°F for medium (about 3 to 3 1/2 hours).
  5. Remove lamb from oven and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to highest possible temperature setting, 500 to 550°F.
  6. Ten minutes before the roast is to be served, remove foil, place roast back in hot oven, and cook until well browned and crisp on the exterior (8-12 minutes). Remove from oven, carve, and serve immediately, with your favorite vegetables (roasted potatoes are particularly good) or side dishes.

Suggested Wine Pairings for Roast Leg of Lamb

a bottle of 2009 Michel Gros Clos des Reas wine

Lamb in general, but especially roast leg of lamb, screams for a red wine that plays off its gamey, earthy, and mineral characteristics. There are two wine grape varieties that fit the bill: Pinot Noir and Syrah. If you are looking for a lithe, light red that can stand up to roast lamb, try the 2009 Michel Gros Clos des Reas from the Vosne-Romanee appellation in Burgundy. This clos (walled vineyard) is the only monopole premier cru vineyard in Vosne-Romanee, solely owned by the Gros family since 1859. This Pinot Noir-based wine, featuring a special label commemorating the 150th anniversary of the vineyard in Gros’ ownership, is elegant yet rich (due in large part to the warm 2009 vintage), offering up scents of red and black fruits, as well as earth and spice notes wrapped in fine and silky oak flavors.

A bottle of 2012 Aston Estate Pinot Noir wine

If you prefer riper and fruitier Pinot Noir, look no further than the 2012 Aston Estate Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast. Crafted by Aston Estate’s Thomas Rivers- Brown, the famed winemaker for cult Cabernet producer, Schrader Cellars, this Pinot provides a lush mouthfeel of red and blue fruits, particularly cherry and plums.

A bottle of 2010 E. Guigal Ermitage Ex Voto wine

But, if you want to delve into the dark side, try the classic pairing of lamb with Syrah. The 2010 E. Guigal Ermitage Ex Voto, a 100% Syrah wine from the Hermitage region of the Northern Rhone in France, displays classic aromas of earthy dark fruits, charcoal, tar, black pepper, and spices that carry over onto the palate. E. Guigal is one of the most notable wine producers in the Rhône Valley and hence this is a special wine for a special occasion.

Prime Rib Roast

A prime rib roast

Ingredients

  • 1 prime rib roast (bone-in or boneless)
  • Kosher salt and freshly coarsely-ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Remove rib roast from refrigerator and allow it to sit for 2-4 hours to permit it to come up to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to the lowest possible temperature setting (150°F-175°F). Season roast generously with kosher salt and pepper. Place roast (fat cap up) on a rack in a roasting pan. Place in oven and cook until center of roast registers 120-125°F on an instant-read thermometer for rare, 130°F for medium-rare, or 135°F for medium to medium-well. In a 150°F oven, this will take around 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours for an average size roast; in a 250°F oven, this will take 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  3. Remove roast from oven and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to highest possible temperature setting, 500 to 550°F.
  4. Ten minutes before the roast is to be served, remove foil, place roast back in hot oven, and cook until well browned and crisp on the exterior (5-10 minutes). Remove from oven, carve, and serve immediately, with your favorite vegetables (roasted potatoes are particularly good) or side dishes.

Suggested Wine Pairings for Prime Rib Roast

A wine label for 2002 Chateau Gruaud Larose

The classic wine pairing for prime rib roast is Cabernet or a Cabernet-based blend. In that realm, one can go Old World or New World. In the Old World camp, we recommend 2002 Chateau Gruaud Larose. A Left Bank estate in Bordeaux, Chateau Gruaud Larose is considered to be a classic Saint Julien wine. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec tastes of blackcurrants and plums, lavish oak vanillin, and notes of leather, herbs, and graphite, on a firm tannic backbone that is now beginning to mellow.

A bottle of 2013 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon wine

In the New World camp, we recommend the 2013 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon from high-elevation estate vineyards on Mt. Veeder in the Napa Valley. Mayacamas has an enviable history in California for its beautifully crafted and long-lived Cabernets and this wine is no exception. Featuring blackberries and plums on both the nose and palate, the Mayacamas is a beautiful Cabernet that is not overly ripe and also has complex flavors of tobacco and herbs. A perfect match with a rib roast.

Please check out our previous seasonal wine guides:

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