Our 2017 Monday night cheese course kicked off last night with France as our destination. With over 370 recognised cheeses and probably a host more that don’t find their way onto the register, France is often seen as the centre of the cheese universe. Rightly so on the basis of the nine cheeses we tasted last night which eminently showed the depth, breadth and diversity of style with top class examples from all four corners s and the middle of the country. Testament must also go to the Teddington Cheese shop for their skill in supplying such superb examples.
This is the third cheese course run to date and as always, my aim is to take people out of their comfort zones and broaden the horizon of their palate. The cheese selection was eclectic and diverse and this made the challenge of wine pairing even more fascinating.
A magnum of Sancerre and a Languedoc Sauvignon Blanc paired beautifully with the Rond de Lusignan goats cheese with the richness and texture of the cheese being cut by the natural high acidity of the grape. Next up was a real highlight – Reblochon from the Savoie paired with an exquisite wine from the Jura – an Arbois 2011 made from the Savagnin grape.
A perfectly mature Soumaintrain – a washed rind, cows milk cheese from Burgundy paired exceptionally well with a Pouilly-Fuisse and the amazingly creamy Vacherin Mont d’Or was a surprising hit with an Alsace Pinot Gris. This all reaffirmed how well white wines pair with a broad diversity of cheese.
We matched Saint Nectaire and Ossau Iraty with a Fleurie and a Mercurey 1er Cru – not perfect matches and we then experienced the challenge of the orange Mimolette from Northern France. Conclusion – best consumed as part of a ploughmans lunch with pickled onions, crusty bread and a real ale!
The famous Fourme d‘Ambert blue cheese from the Auvergne was a fabulous match with a Jurancon Doux – a delicious sweet wine from south west France using Petit and Gros Manseng grapes. The cheese wasn’t too strong, the wine wasn’t too sweet – amazing harmony!
Our final cheese was a challenge – a Tomme de Marc. Wrapped in dried grape skins, the cheese was salty yet countered by the sweet crunch of the rind. I opted for a white port as I think the match need strength and sweetness. Verdict – pretty good – maybe not ideal – but both cheese and port were great even if they didn’t pair perfectly.
Over the next three weeks we will be exploring Italy, England and Iberia – places still available on 13th February .