Fine Wine & Cheese Tasting
Author: Fergus Stewart
The evening started with Richard’s favourite pairing, albeit one that was new to many – Parmesan and Champagne, in this case Vilmart’s Grand Cellier Brut NV. The filigree texture of the fizz, paired with the salty tang and Umami element of the Parmesan, in this case a 24 month aged cheese, were a perfect match and we were off to a flying start.
Another classic pair followed in the shape of Sainte Maure, a goat’s milk cheese from Touraine in the Loire, with Cotat’s 2005 Cuvee Paul Sancerre, an unusual late harvested but still dry Sauvignon Blanc. The richness of the wine was perfectly offset but the lactic freshness of the cheese.
A brace of Chardonnays followed, with Jobard’s 2008 Meursault En La Barre paired with a 24 month aged Comté d’Estive, and 2010 Los Alamos from California’s superstar estate Au Bon Climat matched with Berkswell. The former proved more successful, with the creamy, nuttiness of both the Meursault and the Comté enhanced by each other. Chardonnay would be my preferred option for almost all hard, semi-hard and washed rind cow’s milk cheeses, dispelling the myth that you save a red for the cheese.
A 1991 Tondonia Gran Reserva Rioja Blanco rounded off the whites, matched to Mahon Tierno. I enjoyed the salty tang of the cheese with the gentle, oxidative style of white Rioja, an acquired taste for many though!
Moving onto the reds, a 2009 Chambolle Musigny from Rion was a fine match for Epoisses, proving that if you pair cheeses and wines from the same area you can rarely go wrong. 2007 Ch. Haut Bailly was very well matched with a 2 year old Mimolette, a cheese often overlooked despite its striking orange colour.
A duo of Syrah/Shiraz based wines followed, with Henscke’s 2008 Mt Edelstone in the Australian corner, paired with Cantal, and Chapoutier’s 2007 Hermitage La Sizeranne paired with a Sainte Felicien. The former pair proved a little underwhelming, with the powerful rich fruit of the Shiraz overpowering the Cantal, a cheddar style cheese. The latter pairing made up for this though, with the Sainte Felicien in the running for cheese of the night and enhancing the Hermitage, showing that if you are going to keep a red for the cheese course, the Rhône is the place to go.
Our final selections went down a well-trodden path, with 1996 Ch. Guiraud, Sauternes up against Roquefort and a magnum of 1977 Smith Woodhouse paired to a Colston Bassett Stilton. The perfumed sweetness of the Sauternes counterbalanced the salty, blue tang of the Roquefort in a perfect match, repeated with the Port and Stilton.
A final surprise for the evening was a taste of Black Cow vodka, made in the UK from the whey by-product of a cheddar producer. One to look out for although not an easy match to any cheese!