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.
Marin French Petite Breakfast - We served this unripened little sweetheart to demonstrate what your cheese would be like pre-ripening and without its trademark bloomy rind. Not a ton of complexity, but a bright, lactic, simple eating cheese that's easy on the palate.
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.
- Brillat Savarin - It's almost cliché to serve this sweetheart of cheese-lovers but it really is the silk underpants of cheese. Named for the famous gastronome who said "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are", the tripe crème richness leaves no doubt as to who you are. Cow's milk with 75% butterfat and a thin, edible snowy white rind, it's all lactic sweetness with the slightest of bloomy mushroom. It's practically made to be paired with bubbles but we loved it with this Xarello as well.
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.
Bergamino di Bufala by La Casera - Produced in Bergamo, Lombardy, this soft ripened buffalo milk cheese is a perfect addition to any cheese plate. Buttery in texture with a milky, tangy finish, the Bergamino is a great alternative for those who have sensitivities to cow's milk. It has flavors of fresh milk fruit and a subtle tang. Its texture is buttery, smooth and custardy. The rind is light and mild, while the paste is bright white.
4. Nicholas Reau, Chenin Blanc, 'Attention Chenin Mechant', Loire, France
Attention Chenin Méchant is a classic Chenin Blanc from grapes in the most sought-after areas of the Loire. Nicholas Reau is organic and farms biodynamically but has chosen to not get the certification. His love for wine began as a child with borrowed sips from his grandfather. He eventually went to college to study winemaking. Post-college he worked in vineyards around the world and eventually returned back to France. He took over an estate in 1998 and reduced the production from 28 hectares to 5 to focus on quality. In 2005 he met and married a wine writer and natural wine advocate and this changed the course of his wines bringing us to this delicious treat. This has a beautifully subtle floral aroma and flavors of summer melon and ripe stone fruit.
Dirt Lover by Green Dirt Farms - Sheep's milk cheese from northwestern Missouri. Sweet grass and wildflower flavors when young; fresh hay and meaty when more mature. Our taste was on the more mature scale and really danced beautifully with the Chenin Blanc.
5. 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.
Leonora - I found this paring so delightful! With a paste that is both dense and smooth and a white rind gentle mottled in light gray and sometimes yellow, I find this cheese to be everything Bucheron purports to be and is just too industrial to pull off well. This luscious rectangle ranges from silky and smooth just under the rind, to flaky and cakey near the center. A modern take on ancient European goat cheese making, this treasure is created from the pasteurized milk from a single herd of goats in Leon, Spain. Delicate and bright, Leonora is reminiscent of lemon meringue pie with its bright citrus profile and meringue-y creaminess.
6. Calabretta, Nerello Mascalese, 'Cala Cala', Etna, Sicily, Italy
This Nerello is from the 80+-year-old vines grown in volcanic soils of Etna and is hand-harvested, no chemicals, and only native yeast and it tastes like it! It is complex- tastes of pepper, leather, dried cherries, and ashy soil. Even with just a complex flavor profile, it is still easy to enjoy and pair. It is finished in a combination of steel and neutral oak helping it remain light and bright. This wine is easy to love and easy to share with wine newbies and self-proclaimed wine snobs. It is a wonderful example of an old-style grape, from a unique and complex region, and handled in the most perfect of ways.
Champignon Cambozola - This might have been my favorite pairing of the day! This German creation is a fun take on Camembert and Gorgonzola where the blue veining inside the cheese complements the triple crème lusciousness of what otherwise appears to be a Camembert. Slightly salty and rich with a buttery, spreadable consistency, this is an excellent starter blue for those who may not yet be ready for the big, bold blues.