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Region of the month – The Alentejo

The Alentejo is a vast, rural area of flat plains speckled with cork oaks and olive trees. It is really hot in the summer, requiring irrigation for the many and large vineyards. The Alentejo was the standard bearer for Portugal’s wine revolution, adopting modern winegrowing methods.

The region is best known for red wines which are generally full bodied, fruity and suitable for aging. It also grows one of the ‘big five’ grape varieties for port, Aragonez, also known as Tinta Roriz in northern Portugal. White wines are not traditional to the region but with help of the temperature controlled fermentation tanks some very good whites are appearing.

We interviewed wine maker João Portugal Ramos to find out about life in the Alentejo…

Which is your favourite wine that you make in Alentejo?
“My favourite wine would have to be Marquês de Borba Reserva as it’s a elegant wine, but most importantly completely fresh and beautifully balanced.”

3 words to describe this favourite wine?
“Vinosity, complexity, balanced.”

What international food would you match with it?
I love to eat Carré d’Agneau, a lamb recipe roasted with a mustard, rosemary and thyme sauce.

Finally, what do you do when you’re not making wine?
“I spend time with my family and enjoy hunting.”

You can purchase João Portugal Ramos wines from Adnams; log on to www.adnams.co.uk

Why don’t you have a go at making this dish and matching it with Ana’s favorite wine, Marquês de Borba Reserva? Click here for a Carré d’Agneau recipe:

Carré d’agneau a la Provençale – Lamb Provencal
A lamb recipe from Provence for Rack of Lamb roasted with a mustard, rosemary and thyme crust.

Ingredients

• 3 lb. (8 ribs) rack of lamb, frenched
• 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
• 2 shallots, finely chopped
• 2 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped
• 1/2 -1/3 cup of soft dry bread crumbs
• 1/4 teaspoon of ground thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon of ground rosemary
• 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 2 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard
• Salt & freshly ground pepper

Preparation

1). Preheat oven to 525F.
2). Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet and add the shallots and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, do not allow the vegetables to color.
3). Remove the skillet from heat, add bread crumbs, thyme, rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
4). Stir in egg then mustard. Stuffing should hold together in soft mounds.
5). Spread the remaining oil in a roasting pan, add the lamb and turn to coat on all sides.
6). Roast for 9 minutes, turning once so that the lamb browns on both sides.
7). Remove from oven.
8). Spread the stuffing over the fat side of the meat.
9). Return to oven and roast for 8 minutes for rare (internal temp: 130-135). Cook for an additional 5 minutes for well-done.
10). Remove from oven, turn broiler to med-high and broil for about 3 minutes or until crust turns golden brown.
11). Transfer to a warm platter and let sit in 200∞ oven for 5 minutes before carving.

To serve:

Carve roast into 8 chops and arrange on a platter to serve. Goes very well accompanied by tomatoes provenaal. To make the tomatoes: make a another batch of the stuffing, cut 2 tomatoes in half, arrange in an oiled baking dish. Spread the stuffing on the tops and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes, then broil for 1 minute. They may be served at room temperature.

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