Cheese & Wine Pairings from our March 12, 2022 Class

Posted on Monday, March 14, 2022 | By Nicole Easterday |

 Brie-Tasting Workshop with FARMcurious

1. M. Chevalier, Cava, Spain

Cava is Spain’s response to Champagne and is produced in the same manner so some characteristics overlap. It has a similar mouthfeel, medium-bodied with pleasant big bubbles and a nice bit of acid on the finish that cuts through the creaminess of brie. Cava is a blend of 3 Spanish grapes -  Macabeau, a simple grape with floral notes and slightly bitter lemon and green almond finish, Xarello, aromatic with a rich floral nose and a sweet pear and melon taste, and Paralleda- a high acid grape blended in to add zesty citrus notes.

  • Brebirousse d'Argental - This bright orange French sheep's milk cheese may look like it's going to deliver a punch but it's all sheepy creaminess and goopy brie goodness. Rather than being washed, as its appearance would suggest, this cheese's exterior is rubbed with annatto, offering a bright pop to your cheese plate. The sheep's milk, which is higher in milkfat, delivers luscious goodness and creamy, rich texture. This one is so easy to love!
2. Bohigas, Xarello, Catalunya, Spain
This stunner is a  mineral-driven white wine with a similar mouth feel to Chablis from one of the oldest wine estates in Spain. Xarello is one of the main grapes used in Cava and Chardonnay is one of the main grapes in Champagne so the similarities come as no surprise. The grapes for this wine are hand-harvested, and never see oak barrels creating a clean, crisp wine with a citrusy nose and a balanced taste of green apple, sweet citrus, and minerals. It's perfect for light foods or creamy cheeses with a simple tasting profile.
  • Fromager D'affinois Plain Brie - This is the most exported cheese out of France and with good reason! With it's very slightly mushroomy rind and truly smooth and creamy paste, it's a real crowd-pleaser. D'affinois tends to be a top seller at most cheese counters, whether artisanal or more of a grocery setting. An easy-to-find cheese, this little brie gets its ooey-gooey texture not by adding additional cream, but by using a patented method of ultra-filtration, which breaks up and dispersed the fat throughout the cheese. While it stands well on its own, try wrapping this one in phylllo dough and baking it with some jam this holiday season.
3. Wente, Nikki's Small Lot Pinot Noir Rosé, Arroyo Seco, CA
Wente is so lovable for its history and commitment to sustainability. They are the oldest continuously run family winery in the US and the current winemaker is 4th generation. In 2010 they were one of the first wineries to be certified CA Sustainable Vineyard and have since certified every aspect of the business. We love them for all these reasons BUT when it comes down to it the reason I continue to come back to their wines, they are SPECTACULAR! This Rose is a beautiful subtle pink color with a beautiful nose of strawberry, tropical fruits, and florals. The taste and mouthfeel are crisp and clean with a slightly acidic finish, lots of green apple and grapefruit. We paired it with two cheeses:
  • L'Original Paysan-Breton -This traditional Brie from Brittany in France is one of the few that is truly a "lactic set", which means it uses less rennet and takes a longer time to mature. This process results in a stronger flavor due to longer ripening time, resulting in a very traditionally ‘French’ flavor. You’ll find it quite unlike most bries you’ll find in the US. The textured boasts a silky, creamy yet supple paste with a full, cooked cabbage and mushroomy flavor.

    While you won’t find AOC Brie in the US, this cheese is about as close as you’ll get flavor-wise. Pair it with a nice, full-bodied, full flavored earthy old-world-style wine and pretend you’re in Paris.
4. Wente, Riesling, Arroyo Seco/Monterey, CA
Featuring a bouquet rich in butterscotch and apricot aromas. It is medium-bodied with moderate acidity and a great mouth feel. A versatile wine that really sings with cheese on the saltier spectrum - what a delight with Loire Valley style chèvre cheeses! Certified Sustainable.
  • Couronne de Fontenay - One of the several French cheeses coming from master affineur Rodolphe Le Meunier. The name of this elegant cheese means "crown" as it shaped in a small crown-shaped ring. We playfully call it "The doughnut". This French cheese made with a pasteurized milk has a bright, lactic flavor and is coated with vegetable ash a classic Loire Valley appearance. After a 1-month aging period, Couronne de Fontenay grows a bloomy geotrichum rind. The longer it's allowed to age, the drier the inner paste becomes while creating a creamy paste closest to the rind – bright, lactic flavors.
    This was my favorite cheese of the day as well as my favorite pairing! I could see by all the 9's and 10's that many of you liked this one the best as well.  
5. Comm. G.B. Burlotto, Pelaverga, Verduno, Italy 

This wine comes from one of the smallest DOC regions of Italy with only 10 winemakers and about 45 acres of vines dedicated to the rare Pelaverga grape. Giovan Battista Burlotto, the Commander to friends and Family, started making wine and bottling (at this time wine was usually in Casks) in the mid 1800’s. When he died in 1927 the winery all but disappeared. Today the estate is run by the Commander’s great-great grandson Fabio. He has done a phenomenal job of both revitalizing this estate and establishing a name for himself as one of the leading winemakers utilizing traditional processes and grapes. This wine has the color of dark cherries (opposed to the rust color of most wines from the surrounding areas), a red berry nose with a peppery finish, and fruit driven taste with a subtle earthy finish. It is naturally produced and a wonderful food wine and perfect for the fall, still light in body but offers some complexity.

  • Harbison by The Cellars at Jasper Hill - Made by one of the best cheesemakers in the country - Mateo Keuhler and the team at Jasper Hill Farms - from cow's milk and wrapped in spruce bark. This big, bold cheese is a show-stopper. People claim to taste everything from cheeseburgers to bacon to hot dogs in this smoky, delectable cheese. It's often served with the top cut off so you can dip right into its gooey interior like fondue.
6. Julien Sunier, Gamay, Wild Soul, Beaujolais, France
Julian has made his way up in the wine world from a wild card winemaker of those in the know to a cult favorite and rightfully so! This is the only offering under $30 but is treated in the same delicate and meticulous manner and equally as lovable. This 100% organic is a classic Sunier Gamay- a nose of red raspberries, bright cherries,  and subtle florals with a taste of ripe summer fruits and mild tannins give a drinkable medium body wine. You can taste the attention to detail and place this wine is produced. 
  • Blue Brain by Jumi - Coined the "Moldiest Cheese in the World" when it's aged up to 6 months, our bite was a young, fresh and lactic version which hadn't come anywhere near it's most moldiest potential. Like our brie/camembert in class, this cheese is inoculated with Geotricum candidum, creating that lovely frosty looking surface. This was one of my favorite pairings of the day - the slight effervescence in the wine really elevated the big flavor of the cheese and I tasted a pleasing black licorice sort of finish in my mouth well after the cheese and wine was gone. 

Camembert-Tasting Workshop with FARMcurious in Berkeley