2005 Chateau Le Crock Saint-Estephe and a fully Greek culinary experience
I have just returned from a lovely vacation in the beautiful Lefkada island from Greece where I was able to have a complete Greek culinary experience in the sense that I asked my host where can I have the best lamb dish and he advised me to do what every local does. He pointed me to the best butcher on the island, which happens to own over 200 live-stocks in the mountains and has its own meat shop. There, I was able to pick and choose the meat that I desired. I settled for a 2 kilos leg of baby lamb. The butcher (which was a lady !!) was kind enough to prepare it for me with local spices. I got back to my studio and I prepared the meat for cooking by adding olive oil, vegetables: potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice and left the tray in the fridge to marinate for 2 days.
The one thing that I absolutely loved about my host’s advice was the fact that, in Greece, it is very common for people to take their marinated meat to a baker to be cooked. The scoop is like this: you prepare your tray with whatever meat you want to eat, you take it early in the morning to a baker (not later than 9:00 am) and leave it there to cook it for you. You just mention the hour you want to come back and take it. In my case I settled for lunch for 14:30.
I think it is useless to mention that all morning I only thought about my baby lamb dish, but I had mixed feelings not knowing what to expect. At 14:30 all my doubts vanished completely when I saw the final product: words are sometimes useless to express the pure pleasure I felt when smelling and eating the most tender, juicy and tasty slow cooked baby lamb I had in many years. And all for EUR 2.5 I paid the baker.
For the record, I stayed in Episkopos in Lefkada, the butcher is in the first village as you go to Nydri, on the right side just next to a pharmacy. The baker is on the way to Lefkada, in Nikiana, just after a petrol station(Shell) and is called Kalos. Do not hesitate to experience the Greek eating and cooking habits exactly as they do it.
I had a bottle of red wine with me brought from home that matched very well the fatness of this dish.
2005 Chateau Le Crock Saint-Estephe
I had this wine several times in the past 1 year and it is the first time that I find it a bit closed and quite dry in the first day as least. The wine opened up considerably on the second day.
Red garnet color with plenty of sediment that settled down in the bottle. The nose is shy in the first day but it develops very well on the second day, showing those great truffles aromas that I absolutely loved when I tried it for the first time during my visit at Chateau Leoville Poyferre in 2011. The nose exhibits aromas of red and blue forest fruits, smoke, truffles and pencil shavings. Full bodied, with a firm tannins backbone and grippy on the palate, the wine has a long life ahead of it and it mirrors the excellent conditions of the 2005 vintage: great structure, long aging potential and still not accessible. The finish is medium plus long with a roasted coffee and smoky aftertaste. It might seem to be a bit astringent due to its assertive tannins on its own, but, with baby lamb, this wine sings as all the fatness is pleasantly washed away by the same assertive tannins. Correct pairing is the key. (89/100)
If you visit Greece for vacation do be open minded and try to explore the local habits. It will certainly pay back.