JM Cellars 2016 Syrah with Lamb: A Classic Combo

JM Cellars 2016 Syrah with Lamb

It’s been a while since I posted here at Sippity Sup, sorry! In the meantime I’ve been on social media, covering events like the 2019 Tre Bicchieri tasting and a recent Loire Valley Wines seminar. I’ve also been on the couch, watching Frazier reruns with my mom. Speaking of family, my dear cousin Sarah generously gave me some wine to take home during my recent trip to Seattle (note: Alaska Airlines lets you check up to a case of wine free). Sarah is the events director at JM Cellars, a “family-owned, craft winery in Woodinville, Washington focused on producing handcrafted, limited-release wine since 1998.”

I had to quote their website since I haven’t been there myself, but I sure would like to visit next time I’m in the Pacific Northwest. JM Cellars hits my wine trifecta– small production, Bordeaux and Rhône varietals, sustainably hand-crafted. I’m especially motivated after having sampled some of John Bigelow’s impeccable wines.

JM Cellars 2016 Syrah

To honor Doris Day, we’ll focus on JM’s Syrah, Syrah. The winery makes two different Syrahs every year. I’d like to share my thoughts on JM Cellars 2016 Syrah from the Columbia Valley. Pour yourself a taste and you’ll observe a glass-staining, royal purple hue. Take a sniff to discover powerful dark fruit aromatics with a hint of minerality. On the palate you’ll find luscious blackberry fruit and damson plum with a touch of menthol delivered by silky smooth (yet definitely there) tannins. There’s a slight sweetness in the long finish, perhaps from oak, which brought raspberry coulis to mind. The tannic structure and herbal notes banish any thoughts of a jammy Syrah.

The wine’s balance and complexity cry out for the classic lamb with mint pairing. Greg obliged by grilling up some lamb, accompanied by a minted Israeli couscous. Classic combos work: the juicy lamb loin meshed nicely with the round, full-bodied texture of the wine, the mint was mirrored marvelously and the slight char from the grill complemented the fruity finish. A touch of pickled onions added a sour note, in a good way. JM Cellars, while known for its cool climate reds also offers crisp whites and a rosé made with 100% Cinsaut. Many more reasons to visit! KEN

Lamb Loin Steaks
Anchovy-Marinated Lamb with Minted Couscous and JM Cellars 2016 Syrah

Anchovy-Marinated Lamb with Minted Couscous 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Inspired by Ben Mims LA TimesPublished
Anchovy-Marinated Lamb Loin with Minted Couscous


  • 1 (2 oz) tin olive oil-packed anchovies
  • 2 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (plus more as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 (6 oz) boneless lamb loin steaks or chops
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ red onion (peeled and thinly sliced into rings)
  • salt (as needed)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon white wine
  • 1 bunch mint (leaves only)
  • 8 ounce Israeli couscous
  • 3/4 cup frozen baby peas (thawed)
  • 4 lemon wedges


Marinate the lamb: Place the anchovies with their oil and chopped garlic in a mini-food processor. Pulse the machine 4 or 5 times then run it until a rough paste has formed. Scrape the paste in a small bowl and stir in red pepper flakes, black pepper, and lemon zest.

Place the lamb steaks in a shallow bowl. Rub them all over with the anchovy-garlic paste until thoroughly coated on all sides. Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least one hour.

Make the pickled onions and vinaigrette: Meanwhile, place the lemon juice, sliced onions, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Let them sit on the counter, tossing them often until the juice turns pink and the onion slices wilt; about 15 minutes.

Transfer the onion slices to a separate small bowl leaving as much of the pink lemon juice behind as possible. To this juice add olive oil, wine, and a pinch each salt and pepper. Whisk until emulsified. Set the onions and vinaigrette aside separately at room temperature until serving time. 

Make the couscous: Set aside a few of the prettiest mint leaves to use as an optional garnish then roughly chopped the rest of the leaves.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the Israeli couscous and cook until al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain the Israeli couscous and return it to the warm pan along with the thawed peas, add the chopped mint and vinaigrette; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper; set aside and allow the couscous to come to room temperature.

Grill the lamb: Set up a charcoal grill for direct heat or heat a gas grill over high. (Alternatively, heat a large skillet or grill pan over high heat.) Place the marinated lamb on the grill and cook undisturbed for 4 minutes. Flip the lamb and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare. Remove the steaks from the grill and transfer to a platter. Loosely tent the platter with foil and let rest for 8 minutes.

Serve the lamb on a pile of the minted couscous. Garnish each plate with reserved mint leaves (if using) and pickled onions. Serve with lemon wedges on the side for spritzing.