Wine & Cheese Pairings from our July 13 Camembert-Making Workshop

Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | By Nicole Easterday |

Below are pairings from our July 13th Brie-Making with Sommelier-Led Wine-Pairing Workshop:

Wine listed first and then the cheeses (selected by Nicole at FARMcurious) with which Christina paired them:
  • 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. 

    Why this works: Bubbles and cheese are a classic pairing for a reason. The acid and yeasty flavors balance the creaminess of bloomy-rinded cheeses. Both are delicious on their own but together they shine, the complexity of the wine and cheese are fully realized when enjoyed together.
      • Besace de Berger- This gorgeous French cheese farm 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 it 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 - 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.

      Why this works: Dense goat cheeses love the brightness this Rose offers. This wine has subtle mineral notes that are brought forward with Humboldt Fog and the acid on the finish highlights the texture and earthiness of the cheese.  
        • Le Sarlet - Made by the same cheesemaker above - Le Chèvrefeuille in the Dordogne region of the Perigord, this goat cheese is similar to Besace de Berger but ripens differently due to the oval shape and the fact that it spends 14 hours in they whey before it's aged three weeks, given it a slightly higher acidity. Available with or without ash - ours was without.

    • Domaine du Bouchot Pouilly Fume - “Le Domanie” by Kerbiquet Pascal Et Rachel 2017 - This Pouilly Fume is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, one of the Loire Valley’s most revered grapes. They grow in tight clusters that when ripe are coated with a smoke colored bloom. Often wines from this region are described as having a smokey “gunflint” aroma as an indicator of the terroir of the vineyards from this region. This wine is a shining example of what to expect from Pouilly Fume, Nose- minerality, apple, orange blossom, wet stone, and subtle smokiness. It has a classic dry taste with minerality, lemon zest, and orchard fruits. This wine is from self-proclaimed organic activists Rachel and Pascal Kerbiquet. The attention to detail shines in this wine.
    • Why it works: The acidity pairs so well with the creamy texture of cheese. It is dry, low in alcohol, with subtle oak notes.  This wine tastes a bit simple on its own but the complexity of the wine and cheese are both brought out when paired together.

            • 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.
        • 2017 Wente Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc -  according to the vintner, this lovely wine has "crisp aromatics from lemon zest, grapefruit and boxwood. This wine has a rounded mouthfeel and a bright, lingering acidity." If you can pull out the boxwood, you're doing better than I am, but I sure do like the wine!
            • 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.

        • Vinifera, Gamay, Henry Marionnet, Touraine, 2013 - This wine is 100% Gamay and is true French masterpiece due to the winemaker Henry Marionnet’s instance in quality and over 50 years of experience. In the ’90s when phylloxera was ravaging France’s rootstock many winemakers replanted with American vines. His commitment to remaining a French wine kept him from following suit. This wine is hand harvested, then the grapes are fermented in carbonic maceration in stainless steel. The attention to detail and mild climate come through in the wine from start to finish.  It is a light-bodied red (similar to pinot noir, in fact, they are cousin grapes). The nose is so floral and finishes with cherry, raspberry, plum and subtle, earthiness. The character of this wine is developed mostly on the nose, the actual taste is very mild. The taste has high acidity with tart red fruit with subtle bitter and earth notes on the finish.

          Why this works- If you are seeing a trend of acid its not by accident. The acidity and brightness of this wine (and many good French Gamays) is perfect for food. If you are having a hard time finding a wine that will please a crowd and go well with a variety of foods I highly recommend Gamay.    
            • Leonora - I have no problem admitting that I thought this was the highlight of the day! 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 velvety square is a modern addition to the ancient European cheese making scene, created from a single herd of goats in Leon, Spain. The pasteurized milk keeps a fresh, flaky-yet-creamy texture while the bloomy exterior forms a natural white rind. Delicate and bright, this cheese starts with a grassy citrus profile that mellows out as it ages." 

          • Château du Hureau 2016 Tuffe (Saumur-Champigny) - This wine is an organic Cabernet Franc from historic property that is considered one of the top producers in Saumur-Champigny in the Loire Valley. If the grape and region did not catch your attention, perhaps the 5th generation winemaker and unique terroir will. This wine is lime-stone driven both in the nose and taste. This area is known for its amazing limestone that was mined while building Paris and other cities. Left behind are tunnels with vineyards above and tunnels filled with mushrooms and wine cellars. The nose is has a roasted red pepper start, with cooked raspberries, and a gravelly finish. I catch a bit of spicy jalapeno too. The taste has medium to medium-high acidity, low tannins, sour cherry, smokey tomato and peppers, and a slightly sweet finish. 

            Why this works- If you subscribe to the idea of what grows together goes together then this Cabernet Franc belongs with Harbison.  The earthy, mushroomy, meaty quality of Harbison is needing the bright, tart, lively fruit with the subtle minerality of this wine. In an ideal world, this wine needs a good decanting to truly shine.       
              • Brie du Pommier - a collaboration between Peterson cheese and French affineur Hervé Mons to develop the Le Pommier cheeses including this lovely brie. The milk is sourced from herds of the classic Normande cow, a traditional breed that produces rich, grassy milk high in proteins.

                This beautifully aromatic cheese is everything you want in a classic brie with it's purely vegetal flavor - I pick up aromas of broccoli and cabbage with a light overlay of mushroom. It's funky in the best way and absolutely dreamy with the pinot noir rosé from Wente.

                For a stronger version, try the camembert, which is made with the same recipe but in a smaller format.
          • 2017 Wente GSM, Livermore Valley, CA - I taste luscious violets and blackberries in this wine and it's my new all-around favorite from Wente. Somehow it manages to go beautifully with our fresh goat cheese with herbes de provence, yet manages to stand up well to Harbison, our final cheese from the selection. From the Vintner: "Our 2017 GSM is a beautifully balanced blend opening with warm baking spices and white pepper while counter-balanced by rich blackberry compote and notes of earth. This wine has a round mouthfeel and a smooth finish."
              • 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.