Finest Viña del Cura Rioja Reserva 2012

Finest Viña del Cura Rioja Reserva 2012, Spain

(down to £6.80 from £8.50 on offer, Tesco

It’s always nice to be original and find quirky wine matches but sometimes it’s best just to stick to the absolute classics.

The lovely José Pizarro was cooking rack of lamb with escalivada and pickled onions on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen. Cooking this one at home (as so often with José’s dishes) was an absolute pleasure and I promise I did try to find something a bit different. Beaujolais went well. Whites – which can often work well with lamb – just felt a bit underwhelming. Rosé was better but still you felt the dish was crying out for something darker, meatier, more fulsome and – well – red.

Rioja is an absolute classic with a Spanish lamb dish like this and so it proved again. The creaminess of the wine went really well with the generous texture of the escalivada. The anchovy and olive crust on the lamb needed that extra weight and savoury density in the wine. And Rioja’s classic freshness was what enabled it to stand up to the crunchy pickled onions.

Beyond this, it’s a wine that offers fantastic value for money. Even at the full price of £8.50, a wine that’s been carefully aged for 5 years is a treat. But at the offer price of £6.80, it’s a steal.

José knows his wines so it was gratifying that he termed the match, ‘stunning’. He also commented on how Spanish wines so consistently offer ‘amazing’ value for money, a point with which I’d wholeheartedly agree.

(Susie, 7/10, July 2017)