Lamb from the salt marshes of South Wales has become the first product post-Brexit to join Cornish pasties and Melton Mowbray pies in the British regional food hall of fame, as well as receiving a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) under a scheme preventing imitation.
Geographical indication (GI) marks a product's "authenticity and origin". Previously awarded by the EU, Wales had received 16 GIs including, but not limited to, Anglesey sea salt, Carmarthen ham, Pembrokeshire early potatoes, Caerphilly cheese, Conwy mussels and Denbeigh plums. After the escapades of Brexit, Westminster recently set up its own scheme, responsible for ensuring cultural products are given protection. Gower salt marsh lamb is the first product to be protected under the new UK GI system, applying in England, Scotland and Wales.
Beginning their business in a trailer with two fridges, brothers Will and Dan Pritchard are third generation sheep farmers on The Gower peninsula of south Wales. Now, there is a fully renovated farm building at Weobley Castle Farm, Llanrhidian, the same farm that rears over 1000 lambs a year. The specific vegetation on the peninsula produces meat with spectacular flavours of samphire, sea lavender, thrift, sorrel and saltmarsh grasses.
Speaking to Will Pritchard, “The lambs must spend over half of their lives on the marsh. It’s the saltwater and unique free- range terrain forage that makes the meat so distinctive. It’s dark and has less fat than mountain-reared sheep.
We use a local abattoir, Hugh Phillips, at Weern Fabian farm in Llanmorlais. The family butcher’s business goes back to 1887. We even walk the sheep there across the marshes as they can roam where they like and eat what they like, whilst also reducing our carbon footprint by travelling by foot.”
In 1956, the Gower became Britain’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Its northern shores comprise of a large salt marsh covering about 4000 acres of land within the Burry/ Loughor Estuary. The northern Gower salt marshes on the Bristol Channel west of Swansea have supported the rearing of thousands of sheep, and are currently grazed by 3,500 lambs a year. A seasonal product, it is available from June until the end of December.
Speaking about their promise of sustainable British farming, Dan Pritchard says, “Our farm has the biggest flock of salt marsh sheep in the UK by some distance. We process most of the lambs on the farm. We're all farmers but we've all done butchery and cutting courses, the fastest-growing part of our business and most challenging has been posting it by courier to customers UK-wide whilst delivering on our promise of sustainability."
Gower salt marsh lamb has a sweeter, slightly stronger flavour. Tasting of what the sheep eat which, is not a conventional sheep diet. These sheep have the luxurious diet of nutritious, salt-resistant herbs and vegetables which creates that spectacular and unique flavour present in the succulent lamb.
“The French have always made a big thing of their agneau de pré-salé (salt meadow lamb) – it’s a delicacy there. So we thought, why shouldn’t Welsh salt marsh lamb have that kind of premium status? Back in 2004 we realised what we had here, and what it could be. So our father Roland and our neighbour Colin Williams joined together to form Gower Salt Marsh in 2004.”
"The recognition means that the reputation of our regional product is protected, and it helps us promote traditional agricultural practices and eliminate non-genuine products. Our lamb is now on par with French Champagne and other wonderful quality products like Italian prosciutto ham and Spanish manchego cheese.”
All Gower Salt Marsh Lamb is fully traceable and are born on the farms where they live, “We believe our standard is pretty high. The status is just to keep the standard there for everyone else to follow. And give it a bit of a reputation.”
So, if you fancy some spectacular, high-quality, flavoursome lamb to eat in the autumn season - the time to eat lamb at it's absolute best - Gower Salt Marsh Lamb will have you licking your plate clean.
Available in single cuts, variety boxes, cutlets, chops, rolled and boned breast or shoulder, shank, rump, neck, mutton, quarter, half and whole legs, Gower Salt Marsh Lamb is delivered throughout the UK.
The Wine Society’s Exhibition Rioja Reserva , Exhibition Pauillac, Haut-Medoc , Saint-Juiien 2018, Filetta di Lamole, Montepulalano d’Abruzzo or Morellino di Scangano are recommended to pair with lamb.
The Pritchard brothers’ recommended accompaniment is surprisingly not mint sauce, but Welsh wildflower Mel Cilgwenyn honey
Gower Salt Marsh Lamb
Phone: 01792 390012