In follow up to Part 1 of this article this is the second half of my tasting notes from a recent trip to La Cave à Fromage. La Cave à Fromage is a specialist cheese retailer with branches in Brighton, Kensington and Notting Hill and they run a series of tasting events focused on cheese pairing. During my visit we tasted 6 wines with accompanying cheeses. This article presents the latter 3 pairings rounding off with a stunning combination of Monbazillac and Bleu de Causses AOC.
Domaine La Garelle, Chardonnay and Vermentino
This was my favourite wine of the evening, and presented as rich, elegant, dry and stony. This was apparently oaked, with the oak likely responsible for the long finish, but also a slight bitterness. Overall this was an elegant, well balanced and enjoyable wine.
Score: 88/100 (DT)
The cheese pairing for this wine was an Ossau-Iraty AOC: a sheep’s cheese from the Midi-Pyrenees. Of all the cheeses tasted this is the one I felt I would be most likely to buy for day to day consumption. Tasty and sweet with caramel notes this was less of an experience that some of the cheeses but far easier to enjoy.
Daniel Caillez Champagne, Pinot Meunier
In some regards this Champagne was the most interesting wine of the night due to its unusual cépage. Whilst Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) is commonly seen in Champagne this wine is made from 100% Pinot Meunier. This was similar to what I expect on Pinot Noir based blends, but lacking some of the underlying richness. The nose presents classic notes of yeast, lees, and toasted brioche. The bubbles were generous in quantity, although I would prefer a slightly finer mousse. The Champagne is dry and has good focus from high acidity and minerality, although was slightly short on the finish. This is not going to be my new favourite Champagne but would be facinating to taste alongside Blanc de Blancs, and Blanc de Noirs examples.
Unfortunately the cheese pairing for the Champagne just did not quite work for me. The accompanying cheese was a Langres AOC cow’s milk cheese from the Champagne-Ardenne. Langres is unusual in that it is not turned during ageing, and is a pungent orange rind cheese. For me the combination overpowered the Champagne and amplified the intensity of the cheese to the point of being overpowering! Pairing of orange rind cheeses is challenging, although I have previously found Époisses de Bourgogne and Gevrey-Chambertin are a match made in heaven.
La Renaudie, Montbazilliac, Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc
It transpires Montbazillac is located on the left bank of the Dordogne river opposite the town of Bergerac. It uses the same grapes as Sauternes, albeit with slightly more Muscadelle in the blend, and lies approximately 90km to the North East. This was gold in colour, with dried apricots on the nose. The wine is certainly a desert wine but only of moderate sweetness and presents a well focused, balanced and rounded palate. As this example demonstrates Montbazillac represents a good value alternative to Sauternes, and is turning out some well heeled sweet wines.
The final cheese of the night was a Bleu de Causses AOC. If you enjoy blue cheese I implore you to go and search this out. My first experience of fine wine was a Sauternes with Roquefort and its a combination I love to revisit. Bleu de Causses is slightly less salty than Roquefort but certainly richer – almost like blending Roquefort with butter. It seemed this was a real favourite with everyone. The Perfect Cheese!
If you have any suggestions for great wine and cheese pairings please post in the comments below or on our twitter.