Red, Pink, Practice, and Pianetta
Lamb *is* a red meat, isn’t it?
Good. Let’s start.
I had to ask because generally speaking, lamb goes great with a variety of red wines. Depending upon the preparation, lamb pairs well with Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot, and Malbec. When these wines are well made, they can be a marriage (“made in heaven”) with lamb.
Well, maybe not Cabernet, which, in my opinion, is a wine made with a moo. But I digress.
The reason this is important is because I decided to try lamb chops with Rosé. What?!?
The lamb chops were prepared simply because I wanted to try them with the pink. Generally, lamb will easily overwhelm the lighter, more delicate structure of a Rosé wine. This lamb was from New Zealand, which has a slightly stronger, more gamy flavor than American lamb.
Some people think that’s a bad thing. I don’t.
When lamb – like most animals that are a part of our food chain in America – is “finished” with grain, it diminishes the natural, distinctive flavor. Lamb tastes like beef tastes like pork tastes like turkey…you get the drift. As an example, venison is now being farm-raised, and therefore, it can be presumed, grain finished. Wave good-bye to the luscious, natural wild venison flavor! Let’s go for American Bland!
In New Zealand, lamb is grass finished, which enhances the natural flavor of the animal and in a word, lamb tastes like lamb.
My New Zealand lamb chops were simply prepared with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, quickly pan-seared in butter, and finished in a hot oven until they were nicely pink inside. Yum. I prepared them that way because I didn’t want to detract from either the flavor of the wine or the lamb. Besides, my salad had enough flavors (Arugula! Garlic! Parsley! Spring Onion! Mesclun!) for any four meals.
I will admit that on the surface, the pairing was unfair. However, the Rosato stood up to the lamb. Which surprised me. The wine has the fragrances of roses, honeysuckle, and melon you’d expect from a pink, but it has the pepper, leather, wood, currant, and dense fruit (in “pink,” of course!) that you’d expect from the Syrah and the Cab. On its own, it is fragrant and flavorful, a bone-dry refreshing wine. With the lamb, I’d like a little more acidity for such a fatty meat, but as I noted before, it was not entirely a fair pairing.
Not a fair pairing, but a good one. While I would not serve this wine with lamb that had lots of spicy seasonings, gremolata, rosemary, or mint, I wouldn’t hesitate to serve it with any red meat simply prepared; it can take it!
In summary, the 2009 Pianetta Nonna’s Vino Rosato is a delicious dry Rosé; it has complexity, fragrances, and flavors you’d expect from its parent blend. While it’s not at the George Clooney level (my own personal five-star rating – a wine I’d like to spend a weekend with), I’m glad I have a couple of bottles. I may not drink this through the winter, but I think it’ll still be ready to go when Spring rolls around again. These dark pinks are something else.
Pianetta is a winery located in Southern Monterey County near Paso Robles. They have a tasting room in downtown Paso Robles on 13th Street.
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