Match of the week |  Milk fed lamb and aged Vega Sicilia

Match of the week

Milk fed lamb and aged Vega Sicilia

One of the questions I get asked most often is what to drink with a treasured bottle and this week’s match of the week provides the answer it it’s a red.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste but it’s the baby or milk fed lamb much beloved of inhabitants of the Ribera del Duero region in the north of Spain.

I feel slightly embarrassed to admit this but I had it twice in one day last week - with venerable vintages of Vega Sicilia ‘Unico’ - at lunchtime with the 1996, then in the evening with the 1981 and the 1991 and have to admit it was sublime.

Why does it work so well? Well, the flavour of the meat, as you might imagine is delicate and sweet and it’s served on the rare side on its own with just the cooking juices. No heavy charring, no sauce, no gravy. No competing ingredients on the plate - though in the first instance it was served with the classic side salad of lettuce tomato and onion - the raw onion is possibly a bit brutal.

You may well feel uncomfortable about eating lamb at that age (21 days in the case of the evening meal) but you could take the idea and serve a similar wine with rosé veal or older lamb cooked the same sort of way. For some reason aged Ribera - and rioja for that matter - does go particularly well with lamb.

And if you're vegetarian and have read this far? I'm thinking a whole roast celeriac would be a good option.

Needless to say I was a guest of Vega Sicilia.

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