Enjoy a very different Easter with four great European wines

John Wilson: Support local retailers with these choices from Italy, Spain, France and Germany

Sharing food and wine is at the heart of all our major celebrations, when families and friends come together at home and in restaurants. Now the coronavirus outbreak has taken that away from us, at least temporarily. This Easter is going to be very different.

This has made me even more aware of where my food comes from and how it gets to us. The worst-affected countries appear to be Italy, Spain, France and Germany, so this week I feature one wine from each country, to celebrate all that is great about these cultures. I have also concentrated on wines stocked by our independent wine retailers over the past few weeks. More than ever, these people need our support.

Now is traditionally a time to enjoy some spring lamb. The traditional choices to partner this meat are Bordeaux and Rioja, both of which bring out the best in a rare roast leg. But so too will a great many red wines, the Nebbiolo I include below being a case in point. Any red wine with good acidity or a tannic edge comes to life when paired with rare red meat.

There are, of course, many other ways to cook lamb, not all involving the leg. A slow-roasted shoulder with masses of rosemary, garlic and anchovies calls for something more substantial, such as a red from the Languedoc or the Rhône, or a robust Spanish wine.


These would also suit vegetarian dishes such as shakshuka and huevos rancheros, as well as lamb stews with tomatoes and peppers. The same goes for Lilly Higgins's lamb meatballs; I would love to try them with the Rasteau.

For those of you without an independent close by, O’Briens has a good range of Bordeaux on offer for Easter, including the supple, fruity Château de Gardegan (€15.96) and the sophisticated, elegant Clos Sainte Anne 2015 Côtes de Bordeaux (€18.36). If you feel the urge to splurge, the Frank Phelan 2015 (€36.95) is a classic Bordeaux from a great year, with plump cassis, spice and good tannic structure. Bring on the lamb. For a less expensive alternative, try the ever-popular elegant Rioja lookalike Protocolo (€10) or the more substantial Paraza Oh la la! (€12.95).

Vermell 2018, Celler del Roure, Valencia, Organic
12%, €17

A lovely smooth, medium to light-bodied wine with clean cherry fruits, a lovely earthy, savoury note, with just enough acidity to keep it interesting. A favourite in the Wilson household. Try it with lamb meatballs, shawarma, and other Mediterranean dishes.

From La Touche, Greystones, latouchewines4u.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, clontarfwines.ie; D-Six Wines, Dublin 6; peggykellys.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Drinkstore, Dublin 7, drinkstore.ie; Martin's Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; Searsons, Monkstown, searsons.com; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; The Wicklow Wine Co, Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie; Worldwide Wines, Waterford, worldwidewines.ie

Riesling Trocken 2019, Geil, Rheinhessen
12%, €17.95

Crisp and appetising with racy fresh, light apple fruits and a snappy finish. A stylish aperitif or with crab dishes.

From Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Bradleys Off-licence, Cork, bradleysofflicence.ie; 64, Glasthule, 64wine.com; 1601 Off-licence, Kinsale; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, clontarfwines.ie; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; Deveney's, D14; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Higgins, Clonskeagh, higginsfflicence.ie; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Martin's Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; Morton's, Dublin 6, mortons.ie; McHughs, Dublin 5, mchughs.ie; Red Island Wine Co. Skerries; Redmonds, Dublin 6; redmonds.ie; Sweeneys D3, sweeneysd3.ie; The Wicklow Wine Co., Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie

La Bastide 2017, Rasteau, Domaine Brusset
13.5%, €21.20

Medium- to full-bodied with rich supple ripe dark fruits, and a touch of spice. Subtle and engaging wine that improves with every sip. With lamb meatballs or roast Mediterranean vegetables.

From Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com

Nebbiolo d'Alba 'Coste' Principiano 2018, Organic
13.5%, €27.50

A wonderfully fragrant Nebbiolo packed with sweet ripe red cherry and raspberry fruits. Perfect with a roast of lamb. If you want to splash out, the Barolo (€48) is even better.

From Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, clontarfwines.ie; Sheridan's Cheesemongers, Dublin 2, Kells, Co Meath, Galway, sheridanscheesemongers.com; SIYPS.com