Four French Values from recent Wine and Cheese Cruise
Recently a cheese-expert friend of mine, David Bennett, presented an opportunity to pair wines and cheeses, with the additional treat of discussing these pairings as we floated on the river in a fabulous private yacht, watching the sun set against the skyline of Pittsburgh. Who am I to say ‘no’ to such an opportunity? The result was a two hour floating event in which 30 people enjoyed French wine and cheese put together specifically to compliment each flavor-set.
Our decision to pair French wine with French cheese is an understandable goal, since French wine and cheese are important parts of French culture, but any pursuit like this would be difficult because the State of Pennsylvania in which we live controls all wine distribution and choices, and Pittsburgh’s cheese choices are far fewer than a typical Parisian market. Adding to the challenge was our budget, which was somewhat tight. But I like to think that we prevailed and presented four good pairings – below are the chosen cheeses and wines we paired together: (each wine is followed by the cheese)
Cremant de Bourgogne NV -France Made with same process as Champagne, but in Burgundy region a few miles to the south of Champagne, this Cremant is fresh and crisp with tightly focused flavors – a great starter.
Fleur Verte A fresh goat’s milk cheese that is smothered in fresh herbs and juniper berries. It’s the perfect summer cheese, made in Périgord, the same region of France that produces truffles and froie gras.
2008 Jean Touzot Macon-Village France This 100 percent Chardonnay wine is made ‘un-oaked’ and fermented in stainless steel. Flavors are fresh and crisp with apple and pear nuance followed by crisp acidity at the finish.
Ossau Iraty A fabulous sheep’s milk cheese made in the French Pyrenées. It has a creamy texture, a complex and mildly nutty taste, with a smooth refined finish. This cheese has ancient origins, originally made by shepherds living in the region.
2005 Le Giron Bordeaux France Light to medium bodied wine, this is an ‘old-school’ Bordeaux with dark berry and plum flavors mixed through a fleshy, earthy structure – Merlot dominant wine.
Comté This cheese has been made since the time of Charlemagne in the Jura Moutains of France. Each wheel of cheese is 110 lbs. The main characteristic of Comté is its exceptional aromatic diversity. A study carried out in 1993 by a professional tasting jury identified more than 200 aromatic components
2005 Chateau Haut Gacherie Bordeaux France Medium bodied Bordeaux with red fruit notes and creamy elements, along with hints of vanilla and cocoa in a nicely structured body followed by a spicy finish.
Bleu d’Auvergne This is an extraordinary blue cheese made in the Auvergne region of south-central France. The veining is created with Penicillium glaucum, rather than Penicillium roqueforti, which gives it a more pleasant and milder taste than most other blue cheeses.