6 Cabernet Sauvignons with 6 lamb dishes to go with them
It’s considered a classic match but for me, it’s the perfect match. There’s something about the combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and lamb dishes which really seems to work. I reckon it’s the lively acidity of the wine which cuts through the often-fatty meat whilst the tannins are softened by crispy, salty skin and the black fruit is perfectly-matched to the savoury, umami notes.
So here are 6 Cabernets – alright, some of them are Cabernet blends! And 6 lamb dishes which I think will make the perfect pairing.
La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (R115 cellar door)
For such a prestigious estate, La Motte frequently surprises me with how reasonable the prices are for their wines. This is no exception. Edmund Terblanche, the winemaker, has ranged over 4 different regions to source his grapes, finishing with a tweak of 11% Cab Franc for aromatics. It’s an assured wine, deeply dense in colour and concentrated in flavour and the perfect match for my favourite way of cooking lamb with loads of garlic and herbs. Pair with: slow-roasted leg of lamb.
Uitkyk Carlonet 2012 (R125 cellar door)
In some years, this is a blend, but not this release which is basically 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Interesting wood treatment by winemaker Estelle Lourens adds in spicy notes from French, American and Hungarian oak, but the fruit is more than able to stand up to this oak regime with plenty of blackcurrants and a slight whiff of herbs. It’s a great, everyday price too, so what better to pair it with than a humble bowl of pasta? Try this lamb ragu with fettucine.
Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (R144 cellar door)
This unassuming little wine did extraordinarily-well for itself in the recent Christian Eedes Cabernet Report, just showing what a great winemaker Andrea Freeborough is and how lucky Nederburg are that she’s made the jump to Paarl. It’s a straightforward Cabernet with all the blackberried fruit you could wish for, but it does also have some vague hints of mint and eucalyptus, hence my pairing with this dish of lamb lollipops with pea pesto.
Neethlingshof The Caracal Bordeaux Blend 2013 (R180 cellar door)
This is from the Short Story Reserve Collection from Neethlingshof and is out to impress! It’s a 4-way Bordeaux blend, dominated by Cabernet and is as ripe and juicy as you like with plenty of polish, black cherries and berries and a hint of herbs. Hence my pairing withcrispy lamb ribs – I can taste the salty crispness of those ribs right now!
Plaisir de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (R180 cellar door)
Niel Bester must be one of the longest-established winemakers in the Cape, celebrating his 23rd year at the estate with the release of one his favourite wines, the Cabernet. This is a wonderfully-perfumed wine with hints of spicy cedar wood and juicy black fruit. I’ve gone Moroccan for the match with Moroccan lamb which should pair beautifully with the aromatics of this wine.
Yonder Hill Nicola 2010 (R255 cellar door)
The oldest wine I’m recommending today but one with the most structure – hence the big, meaty pairing! It’s named after the owners’ daughter and is a blend of mainly Cab with some Merlot and Cab Franc on the side. Yonder Hill is in a great place for Cabs – both Sauvignon and Franc – and this is a dense, dark, chewy wine which is great with hearty dishes but can still be kept another few years. My recommendation? Lamb shanks roasted in port and red wine.
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