This wine is one of the best and best value bottles there is. Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial 2001. La Rioja Alta have only declared three Reserva ‘Especial’ years in the Estate’s 121 year history – the others being in 1964 and 1973. The price? €20… or (alas) £25, which makes it an especially good purchase to pick up on your go through the airport on your way back from Spain.
The wine is aged for 36 months in American oak, was bottled in 2005 and released to the UK market in March 2011. It tastes very floral, with a smack of lavender, it’s incredibly smooth but with big flavours and a bouquet thats even better and sucks you into the glass.
To accompany the wine I chose lamb, and roamed the internet looking for a likely recipe. I was taken by a pistacchio crusted recipe but in the end went for Gordon Ramsey’s herb crusted lamb. I blended breadcrumbs with parsley, thyme, coriander and rosemary to make the crust. The Lamb was seared with salt and pepper in a hot pan and placed in the oven for 8 minutes. The lamb was then removed from the oven and painted with dijon mustard before being coated in the crumb and returned to the oven (400F, Gas6) for a final 5 minutes.
Before that I prepared ‘potato boulangeres’ – I like potato dauphinoise but alas can’t eat milk products. This is very similar but made with chicken stock. Finely sliced potato and lightly pan softened onion is layered alternatively with salt and peper on each layer. The onion is cooked with some garlic. The potato is finely sliced and NOT washed/placed in water (need the starch to make it gloop). Chicken stock is infused with thyme, rosemary and garlic and poured over the multilayered dish and squidged around. Cooking time will depend on potato type. I used desiree and it took about 40minutes.
The lamb can be reserved, covered in crumbs on top of the stove until the potato looks done, then return the lamb for the final five minutes…