September 27, 2012

Wine With Cheese

By In Food and Wine
At lunch yesterday I sat next to a winemaker. Scrabbling for something to keep the conversation going, I enquired if he was a red wine with cheese man or a white wine with cheese man. He replied “neither, I eat it by itself”. So ended the conversation. He moved seats shortly after.

For me its white wine all the way. Never understood the fascination with serving cheese with red really as it’s the high acidity in certain white wines that cut through the inherent fat and, to me, the tannins in reds simply clash. The classic combination is goats cheese with Sauvignon Blanc, specifically Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire but there has to be more than just cracking open an SB.

This week is British Cheese Week, so a damn fine excuse for some experimentation. A little selection of cheeses from the family-owned Shropshire based cheese producer Appleby’s have come my way with suggestions for eight great cheese and wine partnerships.

As I get older I realise that I dislike, with growing intensity, smoky flavours. Not wanting to deride Appleby’s Smoked Cheshire cheese but nibbling on a corner was like eating a smouldering twig. I could see though that the Esk Valley Chardonnay 2010 with its oaky/lees complexity – it’s a full on oaky chardonnay – matched well with the smoky dimension. The cheese is “smoked traditionally in the smokehouse with oak wood chips for 3 to 7 days, depending on weather conditions”.

The unsmoked Appleby Cheshire was momentously more enjoyable, moist and crumbly, and sublime when matched to the Vidal White Label Syrah 2008 (yep, a red wine), a grand wine with cheese match. (Incidentally, the wine makers I spent yesterday lunchtime with were all from Martinborough, New Zealand and proffered a range of Pinot Noir wines which I would love to try against this cheese).

A second red that worked rather nicely with the same Appleby Cheshire was the Louis Jadot Beaujolias Villages ‘Combe aux Jacques’ 2011. Beaujolais as a region seldom gets a look-in at Scribbling Towers; a lightness to the wines and low tannins being the reason, but also explains why the match works so well. The wine is made from ‘brought in grapes’, rather than from producer owned vineyards from around Brouilly with a little from Regnié blended in too.

Appleby’s Mature Cheshire, I assume, is a new addition to their range as there are no details on their website to explain the differences between the ‘normal’ Cheshire and this ‘mature’ version. Regardless the extra depth of flavour – a really delicious cheese – went beautifully with the Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2010. Lively acidity here being the key to a good match; but also the subtle oaky notes from some barrel aging. Lovely tropical fruit flavours and a lighter body than the Esk Valley Chard. Such a good match in fact that it trumped the Villa Maria Pinot Noir-Mature Cheshire match, just.

A similar situation resulted in trying the Grant Burge 10 year old tawny (a rich port-style wine) with Appleby’s Double Gloucester – it was such a sublime combination that the (admittedly small sample of the cheese) was woofed down before remembering the Louis Jadot Macon Villages 2010 was also supposed to be tried with the cheese. The nutty, gentler, almost mellow flavour of the cheese matching the the mellow, dry finish on the Grant Burge. Luckily there is a little remaining in the bottle to sample with ‘chocolate based desserts’ (something not too sweet but dark and brooding perhaps). Interestingly the Grant Burge wine is made in a solera-based system, so more sherry than port. Grapes are sourced from a selection of Grant Burge’s vineyards from various parts of the Barossa Valley, so non-vineyard specific. Alcohol is 19.5%.

Wine with Cheese

  • Appleby’s Cheshire with Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages ‘Combe aux Jacques’ 2011 [Adegga / Snooth] (RRP £9.99 Waitrose) and Vidal White Label Syrah 2008 [Adegga / Snooth] (RRP £13.99 Waitrose)
  • Appleby’s Smoked Cheshire with Errazuriz Estate Carmènere 2010 [Adegga / Snooth] (RRP £9.99, Majestic Wine ) and Esk Valley Chardonnay 2010 [Adegga / Snooth] (RRP £11.25, Halifax Wine Company, D.Byrne & Co,
  • Appleby’s Mature Cheshire with Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2010 [Adegga / Snooth] (RRP £12.99 Majestic Wine, Coop) and Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2009 [Adegga / Snooth] (RRP £14.99, Sainsbury’s, Majestic Wine)
  • Appleby’s Double Gloucester with Louis Jadot Mâcon Villages 2010 [Adegga / Snooth] (RRP £10.50 Budgen’s, Rhythm & Booze) and Grant Burge 10 year old Tawny [Adegga / Snooth] (RRP £12.50, Harrods, Hailsham Cellars, Steephill Wines)

Appleby’s cheeses are stocked by Waitrose, Paxton & Whitfield, Neal’s Yard Dairy, the Fine Cheese Co, independent retailers and direct from Applebys Cheese

An older post offers a comprehensive Matching Cheese and Wine Guide.


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1 Comment
  1. Nicky September 29, 2012

    this is fantastic and really interesting to read! I will admit (and try to rectify) that I haven’t really had much white wine with cheese as I’d kind of got lulled in to thinking it has to be red but I’m going to be sampling some in early October so will look forward to having my eyes opened!


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