La Cave à Fromage, Brighton, UK [Part 2]

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.

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The Brighton branch of La Cave à Fromage

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)
LaGarelle

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.

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Cheese, meat and wine storage are integrated into the shop making beautiful displays.

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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.

Score: 86/100

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Langres AOC, Champagne-Ardenne, France

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.

Score: 88/100

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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!  

Cutter

Even the meat cutter manages to impress. I would just love to have a setup like this at home.

If you have any suggestions for great wine and cheese pairings please post in the comments below or on our twitter.

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La Cave à Fromage, Brighton, UK [Part 1]

As suggested by the name La Cave à Fromage is a specialist retailer stocking an incredible selection of the finest cheese. Alongside selling cheese they also run a series of tasting events, based around wine and cheese pairing. I attended an event at the Brighton  bringing together two of my favourite things: French cheese and wine.  For those of you in London they also have branches in Notting Hill and South Kensington (only 100 yards from The Sampler if you want to have a real gourmet day).

We tasted a total of 6 wines and cheeses on the night and as such I have split the article into two parts. Part two is due to be posted at the weekend and I will be adding the link is here. If you have any suggestions for great wine and cheese pairings please post in the comments below or on our twitter.

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La Renaudie, Bergerac Sec, Sauvignon Blanc.

This was a pale gold in colour, with a restrained nose of floral notes and gooseberry.  The palate was bone dry, savoury and rich with a low level of citrus and gooseberry.  The finish was long and drying with high acidity and pleasing minerality.  A bitter note I was unable to place detracted slightly from what was otherwise an enjoyable dry Sauvignon.

Score: 86/100 (DT)

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The wine was paired with St Maure de Touraine AOC goats cheese from the Loire.  This was an ash coated log shaped goats cheese,  with a rich presentation and was notably less sharp than some.  It worked well with the wine as would be expected from this classic pairing.

Platter

Cheese clockwise from bottom left: St Maure de Touraine AOC, Brillat Savarin AOC, Cantal AOC, Ossau-Iraty AOC, Bleu des Causses AOC

La Villa Angeli, Don Pasquale Cuvee, Vermentinu

This wine hails from Corsica, and I believe is the first time I have tasted a Corsican wine. Moderate intensity lemon in colour and fuller on the nose than the previous wine.  This had more fruit, smelt leesy and is oak-aged.  As with the first wine this was savoury and dry with greater complexity.  Again there was a slightly bitter note on the mid palate likely from the oak.  This had good structure, although I felt was slightly out of balance at this point in time.

Score: 86/100 (DT)

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The second wine was paired with a Brillat Savarin, a cow’s milk cheese from ile-de-France.  This cheese has an incredibly texture, described accurately as cloud-like.  There is a serious amount of fat in this cheese resulting in a creamy, buttery presentation.  Well worth seeking out if this is your cup of tea.

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The bread was really needed to bring the fatty, creamy delight of the Brillat Savarin into line.

Jousselin et Fils, Touraine, Gamay

This was a red wine from Touraine, made for early drinking from the Gamay grape.  From tasting I wondered if they use Carbonic Maceration in the production of this wine, although it may just be the nature of the Gamay grape.  This was a rich garnet with ruby rim and only light tears. Mixed red and black fruit on the palate, almost over-ripe.  This had high acidity but only light body, and was a young, fresh wine.

Score: 79/100 (DT)

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For me this was the cheese of the night – a Cantal AOC from the Auvergne.  This cheese is one of the oldest made in France, and the example we tasted had been aged to increase complexity. The rind in particular was almost overpowering, and perhaps the best way to describe the cheese is formidable. The freshness of the wine made a reasonable job of balancing the intensity of the cheese.

Glass and taste

Young Mosel

Riesling is probably the wine – world’s most heralded white grape. Its most distinctive style, borne out of steep, cool vineyards, is produced in the Mosel valley. These wines are often low in alcohol, boasting perfect harmony between acidity minerality and sweetness. Mosel Riesling (especially.the riper wines) are known to be extraordinarily long- lived, taking on funky, herbal aromas over 20, to 50 years.

There has been a trend over the last decade away from ripe Riesling,  with more and more ‘Trocken’-labelled Riesling being produced. Amidst this trend, JJ Prum have remained true to their terroir, producing intense, concentrated wines with residual sugar. Though we have tasted a fair amount of German Riesling, most of this has been mature. So, we decided to try something young, wondering whether these wines would be ‘unapproachable’ in their acidity and concentration, or whether they would provide the heavenly nectar that we were searching for that Friday evening. This tasting was a super-focussed comparison of two wines differing only in ripeness, from the same vintage and the same vineyard: Wehlener Sonnenuhr.

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Currently available from The Wine Society at £24 and £29

Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, Germany 2012

So delicious. This had a mid yellow colour, and was extremely fizzy to begin with. The bouquet was extremely floral with elderflower and honeysuckle coming through strongly. Pure lemon, grape and cloudy apple juice on the palate. This is not a long wine, and it was highly addictive. I dare anyone to dislike this wine. It is elegant, focussed and delicious. However, it did not bring the tension, acidity and minerality I was expecting. After couple of hours, it revealed some matchstick aromas, but all other components of its flavour profile were fruit and flowers. 89 points.

Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany 2012

This was visibly more viscous in the glass, and lacked the fizz. The flavour profile was similar, albeit with some subtle differences. The wine was certainly sweeter and riper, with less emphasis on the floral aspects, and more on the apricot and honey. 90 points

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Conclusions: These wines were a highly delicious treat. We were surprised  that they were so approachable, and we were surprised that they were not overwhelmingly acidic and mineral. we suspect that the sugar is masking the acidity here, and that with age, this will come through more.

Learning point: Next time, buy a case, so that the development of the wine can be witnessed and appreciated over many years. Indeed, talking about the 2013 release, Katharina Prum, the now director at JJ Prum explains that these wines are “enjoyable now, but also to keep forever