Wine & Cheese Pairings from our February 8th Camembert-Making Workshop

Posted on Monday, February 10, 2020 | By Nicole Easterday |

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, Xarel-lo, 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.

  • 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 made to be paired with bubbles!

Camino De Cabras -  Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain

This family first started making wine in 1929 when their great-grandfather acquired a small winery that he only produced for family and friends. Since then they have been producing spectacular Galician wines (Galicia in northwest Spain). In the 90’s the family ramped up their production for export, particularly their Albarino. Even with a larger production, they keep a tight grip on quality - from their website “Our main objective is to always maintain limited but selected output, avoiding massive production that may impoverish the sensitive and organoleptic qualities of our exclusive wines.” Most of their wines now come from the Rias Baixas region. 

This unique  Albarino from Rias Baixas sources grapes from two subzones (Condado do Tea and the Valle del Salnés). This creates a more dynamic and well-rounded wine.  The grapes are hand-harvested in October, later than most in the region. This helps develop the must, sweetness, and balanced acidity. It can also be a disaster if the rains arrive. The grapes have a 5-hour maceration that is tightly controlled. It is then filtered, bottled, then rests for 30 days prior to distribution.

The color of this is a subtle yellow straw color with a tinge of lime green. The nose is full of peach and sweet, ripe apples and a touch of minerality. The mouthfeel is lemony but not with too much acidity, the acid is so well balanced. This wine has lots of tropical fruit notes, apricot, green apple with a nice minerality and a touch of salt. 

This wine would be great with seafood but also has enough fruit notes to stand up to Asian food or subtle spice.        

Chateau Maris Vermentino 2018, France

The wine made at Chateau Maris is the life's work of an Englishman (Robert Eden) who came to France 20 years ago wanting to make wine that truly embodied Terrior, his guiding principle to production is “wine is "grown", not "made".” All of the wines are biodynamic, organic times ten way of producing and growing wine. He believes the entire vineyard is a living system with natural cycles and by encouraging the vitality of the vines from soil to bottle he is producing a superior product. 

This wine is dry but still has some bright fruity notes. On the nose, I have a lot of subtle sweet fruit like pear and peach, grapefruit and a bit of stone (some wine notes describe crushed rock, the jury is still out for me though). Vermintino is in the same family as Italy’s Pigato- one of my favorites and is a large portion of the white grown in Provence/ southern France. 

This wine is also great with seafood, it is balanced enough to pair with some hard to pair with foods like fennel, artichoke or asparagus. If you are someone who normally gravitates towards Sauvignon blanc, Vermentino would be a great switch up for you.

  • Besace de Berger
    This gorgeous French cheese is made by the Fromagerie Le Chèvrefeuille, a cheese factory that has specialized in the production of goat cheese for three decades in Nontron, in the Dordogne in the heart of the Périgord Verde.

    There are a couple of theories about the name of this cheese but the one that makes the most sense to me is that it's inspired by the shape similar to the backpack worn by shepherds. The shape was traditionally produced by placing the curd in a cloth or muslin and joining the ends to hang it for draining. Currently the cheese is made with a more modern technique by using molds in the shape of a small bell.

    After draining, the cheese is coated in vegetable ash - a tradition used to keep the flies away and to preserve the cheese before aging. It also adds to the aesthetics and improves flavor.This pasteurized goat milk cheese matures for only 2 weeks before release when just a slight dusting of geo can be seen through the ash surface.

    The flavor of this cheese is really special, quite delicate yet nuanced. The texture when perfectly right is nearly melting just under the surface with a slightly more chalky core which manages to be not 'chalky' at all! Goat's milk cheeses from the west coast of France tend to be sweeter and less acidic than other French goat cheeses. 

    One of my all-time favorite bloomy-rinded cheeses!

2017 Wente 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.

  • Camembert dell'Alta Langa - This cheese by Caseificio Alta Langa hails from the Alta Langa region of Southern Piedmont. Like its more common sister cheese La Tur, the camembert features a mix of goat, sheep & cow's milk. One thing I love about this cheesemaker is that they don't use commercial cultures at all but rather have been building and protecting their own in-house cultures for a flavor and style that is uniquely their own.  

Elena Walch Schiava, Alto Adige DOC, Italy 

Elena Walch is a woman of many talents and a Disney style love story. She is an accomplished architect in Milan who was hired to restore Castel Ringberg by Werner Walch. Long story short, they married, and she eventually took over the family wine business. It is a family business through and through, their daughters are gearing up to take over. 

Schiava is a light, almost transparent wine with bright acidity that you would expect in a Gamay. This region is known for hot summers and cool nights helping the grapes to have bright fresh fruitiness. Schiava is best when it comes from the older rootstock. The nose is full of red cherry, leather and fresh summer herbs like mint and basil. The taste is complex and precise. The tannins are subtle but offer enough structure and balance to the bright fruits.

This wine goes well with rich foods as the acid cuts through but would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving table. It is easy to drink and pairs well with a variety of foods.

  • Mothais Sur Feuille  - This is one of my all-time favorite cheeses! A farmhouse goat cheese from the Deux-Sèvres region of France, it is named for the town of Mothe-Saint-Héray where the cheese has been made and marketed since the 19th century. In 2002 it received AOC designation to maintain quality standards. The cheeses are aged 3-four weeks in a moister environment than most goat cheeses, giving it a moister, more unctuous quality. They are turned every four days. The cheese are then dried out by placing on a chestnut leaf. 

The Feudi di San Gregorio Rubrato Aglianico Irpinia, Campania, Italy

When I think of innovative winemakers who are changing the way we enjoy wine I often think of new world winemakers and never do I think of winemakers from the Campania region of Italy. Feudi di San Gregorio is changing that! He is working with ancient varietal in a very new and fresh way in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius (I made that up, but they are located very close by so all the grapes are grown in volcanic soil). 

Aglianico is a black-skinned grape that is only grown in two areas in Italy. It classically has a bright ruby color with notes of cherries and raspberries that gets better with aging. The grapes for this wine are hand-harvested, aged in stainless for 8-10 months and finished with 6 months of bottle aging. This wine is a stunning ruby red color with a bright nose of blackberries and raspberries and a tinge of anise. It has a balanced, full-bodied taste with a great tannic structure, lots of bright berry fruits without being cloying and a finish of spice and balsamic. 

This is a perfect food wine! It is asking for a big plate of Italian food and a hug from your nana. 

  • 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.
FARMcurious Brie & Wine Pairing