Wines and Cheese Pairings from our September 29th Camembert-Making Workshop

Posted on Tuesday, October 01, 2019 | By Nicole Easterday |

 Below are pairings from our September 29th Brie-Making with Sommelier-Led Wine-Pairing Workshop.

Wine, selected by sommelier Christina Means is listed first and then the cheeses, selected by Nicole Easterday, our founder.
  • 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.
        • 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 an easy protein and nothing off-putting either.
        • 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!
          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.
        • 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. 
            • 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.
            • 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.
          • La Clarine Farm Petit Manseng - Sierra Foothills. CA - 2017 - 100% Petit Menseng from the Fenaughty vineyard in El Dorado county. We make wine as naturally as possible, the goal being to add no yeast, sulfur dioxide, oak chips, enzymes or concentrates in the cellar, and no chemicals, fertilizers or tillage in our vineyard. 

            We allow fermentations to occur spontaneously, and allow them to complete in their own time (this can take up to 6 months!). Every vintage has its own rhythms. We age our wine in neutral containers, never in new oak, and let the wine develop without sulfur additions or excessive racking. 

            Petit Manseng is Native to the Pyrenees, we are thrilled with the qualities the grape shows in California. We are slowly circling in on its "sweet spot", I think, and still scratching our heads over its behavior in the vineyard. It ripens very quickly, yet always retains impressive levels of acidity. ● The grapes were lightly foot-crushed and then lightly pressed into tanks for fermentation (wild, of course!). This year's zipped through both primary and secondary fermentation, in stark contrast to previous vintages where the fermentation would lumber on for 6 months. 

            The wine was bottled without fining or filtration in late Spring 2017. 20 ppm of sulfites were added then. 80 cases made. 13% alc. 

            The wine has a unique signature, showing guava and apricot when first opened. Medium to full-bodied, with powerful flavors of lemon curd, lime zest, a very bold but delicious, fruity-driven acidity, and a very long finish. Limey, stoney, textured

            • 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.

          • Dinocheau Pinocheau d' Aunis - Loire Valley, France - 2015 - A wine geeks kind of wine. This grape is produced by only a few in the Loire Valley and was almost extinct. If you are looking to bring a unique, somm stumping wine this is it. A primary reason for the grape’s decline is that the vines are notoriously finicky. The clusters are compact and ripen unevenly. “The growing patterns of Pineau d’Aunis—similar to other grapes grown in the region, such as Chenin Blanc—change depending on the soil it is planted in,” says Hon. “In high-limestone-content soil, the grape can mature too quickly, thus depriving it of proper phenolic development. On the other hand, with high-clay-content soil, the coolness and higher water retention of the soil can strongly retard the ripening.”

            Pineau d’Aunis generally makes a very light-colored red wine, barely darker than a rosé, and has a distinctive peppery taste. This wine was both light-colored and peppery, and everyone thought it was outstanding. light-bodied, exotic-spiced. Tart berries, white pepper, bark, fresh earth after it rains.

            Located on the slopes of Cher in Touraine (too-rain) in the Loire Valley, Vignoble Dinocheau was founded by the great-great-great grandfather of Laurence and Fabien Dinocheau. Laurence and Fabien took over the estate in 2006 .They aim for minimal intervention in the vineyard and practice sustainable farming.
            Their Pineau d'Aunis is a bright, translucent ruby color with beautiful tart red berry fruits mixed with fresh earth, light body and soft acidity and tannins. Refreshing and easy to drink, enjoy with roasted vegetables and rice.
              • 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!

            • Les Sabonnettes Les Copines Aussi Gamay - Louire Valley, France - 2018 - Christine and Joel Menard have been making wine in the heart of the Coteaux du Layon AOC for more than thirty years. They produce an outstanding array of wines from Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, Gamay and Chenin Blanc. 

              They practice biodynamic methods in their 13-hectares of vines. Christine and Joel run their domain to very exacting standards and as a result they produce stunning, natural wines—without employing artificial yeasts. The wines from Sablonnettes are not chaptalized or filtered, these wines are vibrantly alive. 

              Lighter-bodied red of Gamay that remains among the best deals in natural wine. Biodynamic farming, no artificial yeasts or filtering. A natural wine that clocks in under $20. Generous fruit and stemmy herbal notes ● An elegant, fresh and vibrant biodynamic Gamay made by spontaneous fermentation with the indigenous yeast that stumble upon their delicious juice and turn it into something even more special! 

              Light-bodied with bright, red berry flavors, crisp acidity and great earthy minerality. Juicy acidity, earthy finish, and bright cranberry notes. 

              • 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.

                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.