Saturday, June 13, 2009

A good wine and cheese matching session

I went down to the launch of the Bristol Wine and Food Fair this week - literally, as it was held at the bottom of Park Street in the cellars of long-established wine merchant Avery's. (Great place - can't believe I've not got round to going there in my two years in the city)

Instead of just giving everyone a drink they'd set up some tables where you could taste different wines and cheeses together, the latter supplied by Trethowan's Dairy which makes the admirable Gorwydd Caerphily and also sells other cheeses (and great toasties!) from its shop in St Nick's market and various market stalls.

The pairings had been put together by Matt Eggens of Avery's who actually achieved a very high strike rate though, as always with these exercises, some came off better than others on the night. Here are my notes on the combinations:

Berkswell with Avery's NV Champagne
A hit. Champagne is surprisingly good with cheese and this was a rich style (apparently made in imitation of Bollinger!) Berkswell is a tangy, hard sheeps cheese which worked with it in the same way as a Parmesan or Pecorino would have done. I also liked it with the Gorwydd Caerphilly below ****

Gorwydd Caerphilly and Avery's Fine White Burgundy
The best match of the six. The smooth creamy burgundy was perfect with the delicate lactic cheese. A gorgeous combination that shows white wine is often better than red with cheese *****

Keen's Cheddar and Valtorto 2006
I liked both elements of this pairing. Keen's is one of the great cheddars and the Valtorto was a very attractive ripe, almost porty Douro red but not quite big enough to take on the cheese. A vintage port or an amontillado sherry would probably have worked better - or a less strong cheddar with the wine ***

Dorstone and Avery's Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007
A lovely light elegant goats' cheese from Charlie Westhead of Neal's Yard Creamery, very slightly overwhelmed by an incredibly lush Pinot Noir from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Again a slightly lighter Pinot might have worked better.***

Stichelton and Maury 1928
An interesting variation on the Stilton and Port combo. Stichelton is an unpasteurised cows cheese made in the Stilton style by Joe Schneider at Collingthwaite Farm (all Stilton is pasteurised these days) and in my view one of the great British cheeses. I thought the Maury, a vin doux naturel from the south of France, didn't quite stand up to it as well as a port would have done (it was only 17%ABV compared to 20%) but it was a lovely wine. ****

Tunworth and Les Hautes Vallées Grenache Syrah Vin de Pays d'Oc 2006
The only pairing that didn't work for me. Tunworth is a rich Camembert-style cheese and this one had been well-matured which made it a tough customer for the accompanying robust southern French red (a blend of old vine Grenache and Syrah). It was better with oatcakes but I still prefer cider or a strong apple aperitif like Kingston Black with this type of cheese. *

I'll be running 3 cheese and wine masterclasses at the Bristol Wine and Food Fair which takes place from July 10th-12th. For more information about cheese and wine matching visit my website


Lori Lynn said...

Hi Fiona - I stopped by to tell you that I bought your book, Food, Wine & Friends just the other day. I love it! The ideas and photos are terrific. And I see you make a beef filet with soy sauce and butter, I use that combo with my seared ahi tuna all the time, looking forward to trying it with beef. Again, great book, happy to add it to my collection!
Lori Lynn

Fiona Beckett said...

So glad you're enjoying it, Lori. That recipe is a great foil for a good red wine. Look out for the new book which is published by the same publisher - the pictures again are stunning!