A while back the French #Winophiles decided that June would be about French wine and cheese. This is a traditional pairing made in heaven that can go in so many different directions! You can join us to see the wide range and variety of wines and cheeses explored on Saturday June 15th at 8 am Pacific time on twitter. Just follow the hashtag #Winophiles to jump in on the conversation!
For this month’s pairing I received two sample wines courtesy of VinConnexion this month. One was from Chateau de Sales in Pomerol and second from Cave du Vendômois in the Loire Valley. While grateful for the opportunity to taste these wines, rest assured, all opinions are my own.
Le Cocagne Gris 2018
This rosé of 100% Pineau d’Aunis is from Coteaux du Vendômois. You don’t see too much Pineau d’Aunis, at least not exported, so I was excited to try this variety.
This grape is also known as Chenin Noir (makes sense in the Loire, right?). It is a red grape found primarily in Touraine and Anjou. Ours came from Touraine, in the Coteaux du Vendômois and is made by the Cave Cooperative du Vendômois. The soil here is clay and the wine is fermented in stainless steel with a few months on the lees.
An an old Favorite…
This is grape is an old favorite. How old? Well Henry Plantagenet (Henry III) really liked it and had it brought to England back in 1249! Sadly, it fell out of favor and is now not widely grown. (get more details on this from https://fringewine.blogspot.com/2012/01/pineau-daunis-coteaux-du-vendomois.html )
Tasting the Le Cocagne Gris
The Le Cocagne Gris 2018 was pale salmon in color and clear. It had raspberry, strawberry and bright light florals on the nose. I caught a little dried hibiscus, like for tea and bright fresh herbs like fresh thyme, with a bit of white pepper and dried thyme in the background. The nose opened up to ripe raspberries. On the palate it was tart with light notes of raspberry, with spice and pepper notes in the back. It sits at 14% abv and has a medium finish.
Chateau de Sales 2010 Pomerol
This wine is from Bordeaux from the Right Bank in Pomerol, the smallest of the Bordeaux appellations. The area is on a plateau with terraces into the valley. Soil here is layered, compact gravel of sandy-clay atop an oxidized iron base that is unique to Pomerol called “crasse de fer”.
Château de Sales has been in the same family since the 15th century. It is now jointly owned by 14 cousins. The estate has 47.6 hectares of vineyard.
Savor the Harvest has a beautiful piece on this vineyard that is well worth the read.
This wine is 82.5% Merlot, 12.5% Cab Franc and 5% Cab Sav. The wine is fermented in concrete vats, aged in barrel (5% new oak) for 12 months.
Tasting the Château de Sales 2010 Pomerol
The Château de Sales 2010 Pomerol we decanted for 30 minutes while it warmed to just under room temperature. There was a bit of sediment in the bottle (this is a 2010).
The wine was opaque and had only a slight rim. It was a deep ruby color. On the nose I got red and black currant, eucalyptus, mint, pepper, white pepper, cedar, cigar box and spices. It had a medium mouthfeel and was lighter on the palate than I expected, in a good way. The inky dark color had me convince that my palate was about to be overwhelmed it was not. It was a thoughtful wine that allowed me to explore it’s depths without hitting me over the head.
Many of you have seen a wine aroma wheel and we often use those for our wine tasting notes. As I was researching the cheese I came across a cheese aroma and flavor wheel from Cheese Science!
I reached out to Château de Sales for suggestions on pairing. They suggested Comté (as well as steak and chocolate lava cake…and yes, after our cheese pairing we did indulge in those also)
So… Comté, but what else. I reached out to one of my favorite cheese shops in town for some suggestions.
Cured & Whey
Diana Brier is the new cheesemonger/cheese consultant at Cured and Whey here in Las Vegas and was kind enough to suggest a Valencay to pair with the rosé, when I asked her online. I headed down to peruse their cheese counter and walked into find Diane gloved up with hands in 180 degree water just getting ready to pull mozzarella.
I had time, so I enjoyed the show and we chatted. She had just relocated from Oregon and gave me some tips for wine and cheese for our upcoming trip that would take us to Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, where she used to make cheese. Michael, the owner also came out to consult with us and we settled on 4 cheeses.
This is a cheese from FireFly Farms located in Maryland. These guys are big on the ethical treatment of not just goats, but also the farmers. It’s worth a visit to their site to see the standards they set.
While not a French Cheese this Maryland cheese is made in a French style. Valencay is a typical goat milk cheese from the Loire Valley, that is set in pyramid shaped molds.
This cheese is “surface-ripened” with blue and white molds. You get a bit of that blue cheese flavor. When you cut it is oozes, and almost runs.
Morbier – Montboissie du Haut Livradois
This cheese that Michael suggested, Diane went to the back to get from the chiller. She brought forth a box, cut it open and gently whispered a hello to the beautiful wheel inside. (She didn’t think I heard, but I did, and now she is my favorite cheese monger ever).
This is a Morbier-style cheese that comes from the Jura Mountains. Made of Cow’s milk, it has a vein of vegetable ash down the middle. This came from a tradition where you separate the milk from the morning and afternoon milking. So morning milk on the bottom, a layer of vegetable ash, and afternoon milking on top. This is a washed rind cheese.
This cheese has a legend.
Ages ago, at the base of the Combalou Mountain, an ardent shepherd spotted a beautiful young woman. He ran after her leaving behind his flock and forgetting his meal, composed of bread and ewe’s milk curds, in a cave. As he couldn’t find the beautiful shepherdess after days of searching, the shepherd came back to his flock and the cave where he found his less than appealing meal. The ewe’s milk curd was now marbled with green veins and the bread had molded. Starving, he tasted the cheese: the Penicillium Roqueforti had worked its magic transforming his cheese into Roquefort…So says the legend!http://societeroquefort.com/
The milk for this cheese comes from a special breed of ewes called “Lacaunes”. They give just 16 gallons of milk per season making this a rare milk, that goes into a really special and delicious cheese. Roquefort is made with Penicillium roqueforti which is found in damp caves. This cheese is aged for at least 90 days in natural limestone caves.
For our last cheese, we return to the Jura for another cow’s milk cheese. It is one of the first French cheeses to have AOC status (1958).
It has been noted that comté has 83 flavors that can be detected! You can tell what season the cheese is from by the color; Golden is summer cheese (from the carotin), a lighter white is a winter cheese. A younger comté will be creamier and softer, as it ages it will firm up and be more crumbly. It also gains crystals as it ages. It will smell different depending on the cow’s diet or the cave it was aged in! To really smell it, squish it between your fingers to test the texture and warm it releasing the scent.
The Tasting and Pairing
With the Rosé
We paired the Le Cocagne Gris 2018 with the MountainTop and I pulled out the cheese aroma/flavor wheel. I got blue molds, with some spice, it was milky and musty with bitter and pepper notes. As I continued and paired it with the wine more floral notes were evident.
I found I really enjoyed this with just a dab of apricot preserve. That with a sip of the wine, brought the whole bite together.
We moved on to the Morbier, which had a lovely smooth texture. The cheese had a bitter note, but was soft and creamy, with those bits of ash and vegetal notes from the vein in the center.
On pairing, the rosé cut the bitter notes in the cheese. Again, this was great with the apricot preserves, the bitter notes in the cheeses were rounded even further. This preserve also had sage in it and a bite with the preserve brought out flavors in the cheese that I had not noticed before.
With the Pomerol
We paired this with the Roquefort superior, which was salty with lovely florals from the mold. It was smooth, creamy and wet enough to be spreadable. We added a bit of cherry preserves and it was amazing! This cheese is so good I could eat it with a spoon.
We then tried the comté. The cheese was firm, but still creamy, this was a younger comet and more yellow in color, so probably a summer comet and it had no noticeable crystals. It smelled of butter salt and flowers on the nose and was perfect with the wine.
There are so many cheeses and so many wines to try. While there are basic rules for pairings, I encourage you to just try things! You might check out the pieces below for more ideas for pairings!
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla offers up “Pretty in Pink: Raclette de Savoie Polenta, Salmon, & Le Cocagne Gris Rosé”
- Lynn at Savor The Harvest shares a “Cheese and Loire Wine Pairing with Les Vignerons du Vendômois”
- Pinny over Chinese Food And Wine Pairings bids “Je t’aime to a Bordeaux, a Loire Valley Rosé and an assortment of French Cheese
- Wendy of A Day In The Life On A Farm shares Life’s Simple Pleasures; Onion Cheese Soup and a Glass of Rosé
- Jane of Always Ravenous shares Summer Inspired French Cheese and Wine Pairings
- David of Cooking Chat offer tips for Picking Cheese to Serve with French Wine
- Jeff of FoodWineClick says we should Do as the French: Serve The Cheese After the Meal”
- Liz of What’s In That Bottle? says Smile and C’est Fromage
- Susannah of Avvinare brings us Vin Jaune and Comte-A Perfect Combination
- Cathie of Side Hustle Wino presents Wine and Cheese, the Heart and Soul of France
- Gwendolyn the Wine Predator asks “Did Someone Say French Wine and Cheese?”
- Penny of Adventures of a Carry-on pairs Alsace Riesling and Goat Cheese, A Match Made in Heaven
- Deanna of Asian Test Kitchen delivers 3 French Cheese & Beverage Pairings
- Cindy of Grape Experiences serves up Wines from Alsace and Cheeses for Pairing
- Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog, pairs French Grilled Cheese and Drappier Rose de Saignee Champagne
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass, encourages us to Try White Bordeaux and goat cheese for relaxing Outdoors
- Payal at Keep the Peas shares French #Wine(ophiles) and Cheese
Are you drooling yet? So much wine and cheese…so little time!
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Not going to lie, I salivated through this entire article! Interesting sounding wines paired with delectable cheeses…nothing better!
I just finished some leftovers before typing this. Baguette with comté under the broiler, a little brown mustard, apricot with sage preserves and fresh mixed greens. Simple and delicious. Ahh…cheese.
I loved the photo of the Maryland cheese oozing out of it’s covering. OH MY YUM
I love that you had tasting notes on the cheeses Robin! Great post!
Thank you Martin!
And you spent fun time with a cheese monger too! Love your photos and pairings, especially the Roquefort and cherry preserves with the de Sales. Makes me want to get a bottle and try that! I like playing with flavors as you say to see what works. And bringing in the preserves, bravo!
Thanks Lynn! What spectacular wines to pair with. I love playing with the flavors and finding what works. It’s often interesting to see the differences between what works for me and what works for Michael. Next time you have a bottle of the de Sales, do try the roquefort and cherry preserves.
PS: Thank you for linking to my article about Château de Sales!
It was such a great piece! I learned so much from it, how could I not share?
Outstanding pairings and information on the cheeses and wines. I love the cheese wheel and plan to refer to that in the future. I am on the hunt for the Firefly Farms Mountain Top.
Who knew! This great creamery in Maryland! Keep your eyes open for it! And I’m keeping that cheese wheel handy too!
Love all your photos of the various cheeses and your pairing suggestion. I’d hire you to cater.;-)
I’m flattered Penny!
What a wonderful selection of cheese! That Mountain Top from Maryland looks absolutely luscious, and I love that you developed a relationship with your cheesemonger. I really liked learning about all the different types of cheeses along with great pics!
Thanks Deanna. While the wines and cheeses were wonderful I think meeting Diane was the highlight!
Great read Robin, we both did the Roquefort and Bordeaux – such a great pairing. All of your pics are making me drool!
Thanks Cathie! Roquefort and Bordeaux…I’m salivating just thinking about it!
The cheese wheel is such a great resource. So many possible combinations! This is why wine and cheese are made for each other. Thanks for sharing!
Great post! I love how the Mountaintop cheese oozes out of the shell! I almost bought a piece of Morbier too. These two wines are very good with all these cheeses.
Thanks Pinny! This cheese from Maryland was a surprise and delicious. I enjoyed the Morbier also, it had more bitter notes than expected. It looks so mild mannered and then packs a bit more of a punch.
Am I drooling yet? Is that even a question to be asked after an epic drool-worthy post like this one? Love all of the cheeses and wines you’ve chosen!
Thank you Payal!
Lots of good information! Interesting to check out that cheese wheel. But even better having help of someone passionate about cheese to pick our some good options.
Indeed! The pairings were wonderful, but finding a passionate cheesemonger was the highlight of the week!