Ahhh, the joys and stresses of Christmas. As a dad, you have to think about what to get your boys for Christmas, reminding myself what age they are (time sure has flown by); as a husband, you have to make sure your wife isn’t under too much pressure with organising what to do with the rest of the family on the day; as a passionate cook, you have to make sure your ingredients are all ready for your Christmas spread; and as a winemaker, you have to prepare yourself for the chaos of the most busy time of the year!
I love that my youngest, who is only nine years old, is still excited about Christmas. That’s what keeps it the most alive for me. Although, I do get the inkling that he knows that Santa isn’t real, but just wants to pretend he believes in it so as to keep it alive for himself. As a kid, I think that’s fair game!
I have one simple rule at Christmas: if you want to see me, come to my house. I will cook for anybody and everybody, I love cooking and being a host, but am just fed up with driving everywhere. With my sister’s health issues and of course the inevitable limitations that come with getting old (I’m talking about my parents of course!), it’s just easier if everyone comes to us for my Christmas feast.
I’m excited about the We’ve Got Christmas Covered six-pack I’ve released, they’re some of my most favourite wines for Christmas because they just go perfectly with some of my favourite Christmas foods. The Battle Axe is a wonderful Christmas wine – good to drink before, during, and after.
With Christmas comes the warmer weather – I just love waking up to a warm morning, and walks down the beach. I do miss being able to do this with my old dog Ernie, as Dora (one of my current dogs), is petrified of the water. Then again, she’s scared of everything!
I am looking forward to Christmas, being only a month away now, but am also slightly pressured by the thought of everything I know to come hand in hand with it. I’m sure you’re in the same boat too! Alas, I hope your Christmas preparations are starting to come together well.
This recipe is perfect for spring. Lamb is typically associated with spring, as well as yummy vegetables such as asparagus. The beauty of this dish is that it slow cooks in a Dutch oven for a while, so you can kick back and enjoy a nice glass of wine and soak up the warm spring sun!
1 ½ tablespoons salted butter
2 large onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1-1.5kg boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 3cm pieces
3 cups 2013 Mr. Riggs Ein Riese Riesling (enough in the bottle so that there’s a little left to drink while you cook!)
1 teaspoon rock salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 bunches fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut in halves
4 small red potatoes, halved
2 turnips, peeled and cut into 2.5cm pieces
6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2.5cm pieces
Salt and pepper
2 cups cous cous
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups water
3 tablespoons salted butter
1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven/large casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan and sauté for 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Spoon onion mixture into a large bowl. Add half of the prepared lamb to the pan and sauté for 4 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan, and add to onion mixture. Repeat this with the remaining lamb.
2. Add the wine to the pan and scrape to loosen the browned bits stuck to the pan. Return lamb mixture to the pan, add salt and pepper. Combine oregano, parsley and rosemary. Add half of this herb mixture to the pan and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until lamb is tender.
3. Meanwhile, grease an oven pan with olive oil and roast vegetables for 40 minutes or until slightly caramelised.
4. To make cous cous, bring the water and olive oil to the boil in a saucepan. Take off the head and add the cous cous. Cover and let stand for 3 minutes. Separate grains with a fork and stir through the butter.
5. Once the lamb is tender, add asparagus to pan and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly tender. Stir in remaining herb mixture.
6. Serve lamb on a bed of cous cous with the roasted vegetables.
Wine pairing: Mr. Riggs NV Battle Axe McLaren Vale Sparkling Shiraz (RRP: $24) or Mr. Riggs Piebald Syrah (RRP: $27)
For those of you unaware, there are typically four different styles of Riesling: traditional dry citrusy Australian, rich ripe slightly oily Alsatian, fine tangy low alcohol German, as well as the sweeter German-style.
In my range, I offer two Rieslings quite distinct from one another. Firstly, we have the Watervale Riesling, a traditional Australian dry style grown in the Clare Valley. Clare Valley Riesling is one of the leaders of the world’s Riesling collection; my preference being for the Watervale subregion which produces fuller richer Aussie styles. This wine is more about the richness of the grape with lovely floral fruit. So go ahead, sip on this perky little number and be dazzled by its lifted citrus persuasions balanced by full fruit sweetness.
Secondly, I offer you the Ein Riese Riesling, a German off-dry style which was my first introduction to Riesling. My parents tended to drink this style, and its actually the first I ever tried and what started my love affair with wine. After years of bemoaning the loss of this style, I decided in 2004 to give it a go myself and was one of only three producers in Australia (that I could find) to make it.
After years of damage control by telling everyone that “Riesling is dry”, when the industry tried hard to kill off Riesling by calling generic sweet wine Riesling (even though not a grape of Riesling went near the cheap sweet cask and flagons), I decided to swim against the tide and release a Mr. Riggs German Style Riesling in all of its inspiring awe. My staff christened this wine the ‘Ein Riese’ (German word for “Giant”), partly due to my stature and also because I truly believe that it is one of the superior figures amongst all other wine styles.
The Ein Riese is delicate and floral on the nose, but take a sip and be transported to your happy place – the mix of sweetness and tang with a superb length of flavour slips down easily and ends with a bright, crunchy finish. It’s possibly one of my favourite creations. Pair it with spicy food, as an aperitif (or hold on and use it in our November recipe from In the Kitchen with Mr. Riggs Monday 24th November).
Give my Riesling’s a try, I know you will love them and they are absolutely perfect for this warmer weather. King of the Grapes.
Mr. Riggs is proud to announce we’ve hit the $100,000 mark with our donations to the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation. Cheers all round – who wouldn’t celebrate all efforts to help our scientists find a cure for cancer?
Mr. Riggs has been a long-standing supporter of this foundation, and in October we hope that we can donate even more, with your assistance.
For every dozen of The Gaffer Shiraz sold during the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mr. Riggs will donate the proceeds of one bottle to the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation.
We are so proud of The Gaffer – this top drop has enabled us to contribute to the foundation, wearing its flashy PINK cap for a decade.
So get behind this great cause and enjoy a glass of one of McLaren Vale's finest.
Thank you for your support,
Ben (Mr.) Riggs
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