Among other things, it takes a good winemaker to make a good Pinot Noir. Megan McGrath Gates has been the winemaker for Lucas & Lewellen Estate Vineyards since 2007. Her winemaking career was launched as an enologist for Flowers Vineyard & Winery on the Sonoma Coast, crafting Burgundian-style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, while she earned a Certificate in Winemaking from UC Davis.
While Megan passionately embraces centuries-old vintners’ practices, she is humble about the winemaker’s role in the process. Megan’s love of soil gives her a ground-up perspective on winegrowing. “We make many decisions during the growing, fermenting and aging stages, but ultimately the grape has to express itself and that starts in the soil.”
So, how good is her Lucas & Lewellen 2016 High 9 Pinot Noir?
- 90 pts Wine Spectator
- 91 pts Wine Enthusiast - June 2019 edition
- 93 pts Gold Medal - 2019 Los Angeles International Wine Competition
- 93 pts Somm Journal
Greek Leg of Lamb with Potatoes (Arni Me Patates)
1 leg of lamb deboned and tied (about 5 pounds of meat), with fat trimmed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
6 to 8 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh mint (about 8 to 10 medium leaves)
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup water for roasting and additional 1 1/2 cups for potatoes
2 pounds Idaho potatoes
Preheat oven to 325°F degrees.
Rub lamb with salt, pepper and oregano.
Peel garlic cloves and wash mint.
Poke holes all over lamb and stuff mint leaves and garlic cloves into the holes. Pour lemon juice into holes where garlic has been stuffed. Place in roasting pan on rack with 1/2 cup water and bake, covered, in preheated oven 25 to 30 minutes per pound, or until meat thermometer inserted into leg reaches 145 degrees (for medium rare).
When lamb is done, remove to platter and keep warm. Drain off any excess fat from pan, but do not discard caramelized brown drippings. Add 1/2 cup water to pan and place over medium heat, stirring water and brown drippings to deglaze pan, about 5 minutes. Add quartered potatoes to pan and remaining 1 cup water.
Bake in 350°F oven, covered, 45-60 minutes, or until potatoes are golden and tender. Reserve liquid to serve with potatoes and lamb. Remove string from lamb before serving. Add some green peas and mint jelly on the side and we are ready to go.
Pair this leg of lamb with Lucas & Lewellen’s 2016 High 9 Pinot Noir. This is a limited vintage from the highest nine-acre block of the Goodchild Vineyard, an outstanding location to grow the superior clone 667. It is aged sur lees in French oak barrels which brings forth the natural flavors of bright red fruit with smooth tannins and a lingering finish. Enjoy!
John David Finley is a free-lance writer and author of the cookbook, Sacred Meals from our Family Table, which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at jdfinley53outlook.com