Smoked Lamb Shanks & Grgich Hills Estate Merlot #MerlotMe

#MerlotMe Continues
October Sundays are perfect for low and slow smoking at the grill, and with Julie out of town, lamb was the order of the day. Savory and smoky, lamb shanks seemed like a good fit for a nice Merlot. Our #MerlotMe celebration continues!

Grgich Hills Estate
Grgich Hills Estate
is an important Napa Valley institution, with Miljenko “Mike” Grgich having crafted the surprise winner of the Chardonnays in the now famous Paris Tasting of 1976. At the time, he was the winemaker at Chateau Montelena, but the success gave him the push to gather his supporters and start his own winery in 1977.

Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Merlot 2013 (winery sample, $43 SRP)
From the winery: Committed to natural winegrowing and sustainability, we farm five estate vineyards without artificial pesticides or herbicides, rely on wild yeast fermentation and use our passion and art to handcraft food-friendly, balanced and elegant wines. This cool climate Merlot comes from our vineyards in southern Napa Valley grown within sight of the San Francisco Bay. We blend in a small amount of Merlot from our warmer upper Napa Valley vineyards to create a complex and balanced wine.

From Jeff: For my personal wine choices, I shy away from Napa Valley as the wines are so often bigger, bolder and riper than my preference. The Grgich Hills Estate was a delight! Napa Valley sun and warmth, yes. But a more traditional sense of restraint overall. This wine was a real treat.

Eye: Clear, with the slightest haze, possibly unfiltered. Medium intensity ruby with narrow cool ruby edge
Nose: Clean, medium- intensity. Deep barely ripe blackberry aroma with an herbal / mineral edge
Mouth: Dry, medium+ body, medium acidity, medium+ tannins. The wine has a lean, old world feel. It’s fully ripe, but not plush and rich, rather a bit racy and lean. It works on its own, but it’s definitely built to be enjoyed with food.

Lamb Shanks Low & Slow
When you have the opportunity to cook something over a charcoal fire slowly, gently infusing the flavors with a subtle element of smoke, you really don’t need a lot of spices. This meal was an all afternoon affair, starting fire at lunch and dinner in the dark!

Disclosure: The Grgich Hills Estate Merlot was provided as a #MerlotMe sample by the winery, all opinions are mine.

Low & Slow Lamb Shanks, Eggplant & Beans

Note this is less a recipe than a set of very general suggestions as part of an experiment. The amounts should be viewed as approximate, but very flexible. Plan to start the lamb shanks about 6 hours before mealtime, and the other ingredients about 3 hours before. A note on serving size: two lamb shanks are very generous for two, and perfectly fine for 4 people sliced off the bone over the stew.


  • 2 Lamb Shanks
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 2 onions, sliced from stem to root to form long slivers
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry red wine (something inexpensive but drinkable)
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper as needed


  • The day before: Salt and pepper the lamb shanks and place them in the refrigerator overnight
  • Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight
  • Noon, the day of dinner:
  • Peel the eggplants and cut into chunks.  Salt the eggplant cubes and put them in a colander in the sink to drain
  • Start the grill, set for direct heat at 350F
  • Brown the lamb shanks on all sides
  • In a 4 qt or larger dutch oven, sweat the onions in a couple tablespoons of oil for 10 minutes, add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes then remove.
  • Shift the grill over to indirect heat, add wood for smoke and reduce the temperature to 250F
  • Put the lamb shanks on the grill and begin to smoke
  • About 3 hours before mealtime, add the red wine, eggplant chunks, beans and tomatoes to the dutch oven and place on the grill next to the shanks.
  • About 2 hours before mealtime, bring the grill temperature up to 350F
  • The lamb shanks are done when they reach an internal temperature of 205F, by then the stew should have reduced to a nice, rich consistency.

Slow Smoked Lamb Shanks & Grgich Hills Estate Merlot at

















5 Responses to “Smoked Lamb Shanks & Grgich Hills Estate Merlot #MerlotMe”
  1. Bravo for the food match!

  2. Michelle Williams says:

    A perfect fall meal!

  3. Lawd have mercy! I made the mistake of looking at this post around lunch time! Cheers Jeff!

  4. Lynn says:

    Will you come to Bordeaux and make this for us?!? We’ll supply (some great) wine ;-D

  5. MeaghanC says:

    What a great fall meal! May have to encourage my husband to bring out the smoker this weekend 🙂

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