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Ultimate Cheese & Wine Pairings with The Cheese Geek
Fish and chips. Bangers and mash. Ant and Dec. Just a few duos that live long in British minds. But the one that arguably tops it all: wine and cheese.
But what is the perfect combo? Everyone will have a personal opinion of course. So we’ve decided to team up with our friends over at The Cheese Geek to pair some of their fabulous artisan cheese with top picks from our Sommelier Selection.
Clemence and Fred headed over to Cheese HQ and were warmly welcomed by the team of Cheese Geeks, with no less than 17 cheeses at the ready!
The glaring quandary we wanted to resolve was an affliction shared by every serious wine & cheese lover, namely, how to find wines that can stand up to the inevitable free-for-all that ensues when you place a cheese board in front of your wide-eyed guests.
Plus you’re usually only going to get stuck into a couple of different wines throughout your cheesy exploits (unless it’s been a particularly long week…). So rather than pair individual cheeses with individual wines, we’ve gone for a few bottles flexible enough for a wider variety of fromages. We even had the delight of expert input from well-respected Master of Wine, Ali Cooper!
And before we get stuck in, if you want to delve into any of these combos yourself, pick up the bottles as always through our online shop, and pop over to The Cheese Geek, who have been kind enough to give our customers a generous 10% off all items across their site when you use code GRAPES10 at checkout.
Of southern Burgundian provenance, this Pinot Noir from the esteemed Domaine Francois Raquillet is hands down one of the best value bottles from the region. Wonderfully ripe red plums, tight red cherries, dry spices and ancient forest aromas lead to a palate which is quite a mouthful. Dry, rich with good extract, this is sinuous, with sappy fruit and plenty of structure.
Amiably known as ‘Spenny’ by The Cheese Geek crew, the sheep’s milk Spenwood was an absolute winner with the Raquillet. The smooth, nutty tones of the cheese with the fruity, almost jammy nature of the wine created a quince-like party in your mouth.
The Gorgonzola-style Beauvale, from Cropwell Bishop Creamery, Stilton producers Robin and Ben Skailes, was a real treat also. Peppery, fruity notes emerging between the wine and cheese. A great start to the session!
Traditionally dry white wines are best avoided when the cheeseboard is plonked down, but this Riesling from the Mosel magician, Clemens Busch, and his wife Rita, arguably stole the show at times.
MW Ali couldn’t have put it better, proffering up a description like no other: “Tantalising acidity guides this wine like a laser missile with a subtle creaminess and salty twang supporting the beautiful orchard fruits. If you could bottle springtime…”.
We couldn’t agree more Ali! And with that, the cheeses empowered this majestic grape even further.
The first revelation here was the stunning pyramid shaped ashed goat's cheese, Tor, of Somerset origin. A herbaceous, tangy number, and with the acidity from the Riesling cutting through these creamy, ashy notes, there was just stunned appreciation from the room. The Tor also really brings out what Ali describes as “citrusy mandarin skin flavours in the wine”. A proper summer pairing - best enjoyed outdoors in the sunshine.
On to the softer Vacherin/Camembert hybrid of the Winslade, a rather different style but when paired with the Clemens Busch proffers a delightfully floral, sweet, spruce-like character.
As if it couldn’t get any better, enter stage left the St. James. This raw milk, washed rind sheep’s cheese was like an everlasting gobstopper. A really rare, fudgy, gooey, punchy, salty wonder. This is a truly artisan creation. The saline hit of the Riesling found its match with the St. James’ saltiness. As Ali says, “The rind really brings out a mushroomy character in the wine. Lemony flavours are the star of the show here, citrus and a wonderful slatey character.”
Castello Romitorio has been a long-favoured stalwart at Honest Grapes, both for club members and the team alike. Their Chianti Colli Senesi has an elegant and full body with a great balance between fruits (red cherries and red currants) and earthy, leathery notes. Highly versatile and a no-brainer when it came to what would fit across the (cheese)board.
The hard-nosed nutty goodness of a Poacher was an instant hit here. The rind just changed everything – it really brought out the leafiness of the wine and highlighted a lovely sweetness to the ripe fruit. One member of The Cheese Geek team commented on a “melted cheese on toast” type character – and they were spot on!
Then through to the softer Ogleshield, where the freshness of the Sangiovese grape cut through the funkiness of the cheese, leaving a whiff of bacon fat and creamy goodness in its wake.
But it was a return to the harder styles, and the Cornish Kern, that trumped the lot here. This 16-18 month aged stunner reflects the terroir as much as any artisan wine would. With the Chianti the cheese became delectably sweet, close to treacle tart in profile. Or, as Ali Cooper puts it, “a silky smooth combo – on its own the rich caramel nature of the cheese needs a lift of acidity and this wine just does that beautifully”.
With all things in life, one should generally try to keep an open-mind. Wine and cheese pairing is no exception. Yet when you know for a fact that the blue cheeses are going to go best with a sweet white Bordeaux, especially when it’s the second wine of Barsac’s hottest address, Chateau Climens, it’s hard to see the wood from the trees.
Especially when that forest was singing as beautifully as this belting Barsac with all manner of blues that were on offer - Buffalo Blue, Cashel, and how about that Stitchelton!
The Barsac has a spring-like character. The nose is bursting with white flowers, mint, lime blossom, citrus fruit, apricot and spices. Very fleshy and vivacious in the mouth.
This merged perfectly with the fresher-style blue cheese of Buffalo Blue, offering a wonderfully summery, silky, spicy combo. On the flip side, the more mineral, salty Stichelton gave us a more jammy taste with a super intense sweet, fruity and fermented spice quality when enjoyed with the sweet Bordeaux. It was then the gritty, honey-like Cashel Blue that saw this epic tasting draw to a close – the rough and ready nature of the cheese giving way to rich creaminess and nectar with the wine.
And there we have it! What a day it was, and what a selection of wines and cheeses for you to try yourselves.
Remember if you want to pick up any of these bottles as always just head to our online shop, and pop over to The Cheese Geek for all your cheesy needs, using code GRAPES10 at checkout to get 10% off all items across their site.
Published on: June 25, 2021