The Perfect Pairing

by Rhonda Barnhart - Cheesemonger, Chapel Hill, NC in Cheese, Wine & Beer

We love our Cheese! My task was to pick three cheeses from our cheese department any milk, any rind, any region. Hand over the lucky trio to our Wine Department.  A little thought. A little discussion. And Voila! The perfect pairing had been born.

“Bring the cheese and let’s try this out!” I was told by a Southern Season wine expert. I was intrigued by this particular pairing and couldn’t wait for my palate to begin its work.

Wine Cheese blog

First up, Snow Camp by Goat Lady Dairy.

We are fortunate to call this petite gem a local cheese. Just a short drive over to Climax, North Carolina leads you to a beautiful farm. The tartness of the goat’s milk and the creaminess from the cow give way to a luscious, clean, buttery flavor that only deepens with age. We chose Horst Sauer Riesling for this pairing. This light and refreshing grape has a brighter acidity with a nose of citrus, orchard and hints of stone fruit with a lovely spring floral note. The palate is a little deeper with pronounced notes of pepper and wet stone. We took a little sip, and yes, that minerally wet stone is definitely there. Then a little taste of Snow Camp. I was writing notes as I took the second sip, not expecting the sudden change on my palate. “Wow!” I exclaimed. The mineral was replaced with stone fruit, passion fruit and quince with a more herbal, floral flavor. The creaminess of the cheese certainly embraced the fruit in the orchard that was detected in the original nose.

Next, it’s all about the funk.

I chose Montboissie du haut Livradois, a washed rind cheese produced in the highest part of the Jura Mountains in the Franche–Comte region of France. Slightly pungent in the aroma, Montboissie is nutty and buttery, with subtle hints of fruit and fresh hay. How about some funky wine to go with that funky cheese? We selected a Muscadeta complex wine with funk just like the funk in the cheese rind. Smokey, bruised fruit aromas leads to a chamomile and wet wool finish. But after a taste of Montboissie and a second sip of the Muscadet, all of the funky flavors balanced into a fruity, creamy mouthful.

And lastly, the most interesting pairing took us on a trip to Spain.

I went with a blue this time, the Spanish Valdeon from the Castilla y Leon region. Wrapped in Sycamore leaves, this blue is bold and hearty with dense veining throughout the wheel. Even with its reputation for being powerful, each bite has an excellent balance of sweetness, tang and damp earth. So it made sense to pair Valdeon with a Mencia from the steep hillsides of Ribeira Sacra in Spain. On the nose, this red is light, fruity and floral. I was surprised to find the palate to be totally different. The fruit is still there, but it was fuller on the tongue keeping you grounded with its earthy notes. This would be interesting to see how this earthy blue would play with this light yet medium bodied red. It was another “wow.” All of us wowed, pleased with what we discovered. Currants and rhubarb became the focus as the original earthy notes rounded out into more of a floral and mushroomy experience.

It’s exciting for us to share our love and knowledge of food and wine here at Southern Season. There is nothing better than for us to share it with you. Gather some friends, family and loved ones, and come check out our amazing cheeses and wines. This pairing was amazing. Get ready for a fabulous cheese and wine experience!

Coming Next Month: An American Cheese in Paris!  A tale of how American artisinal cheese is taking Paris by storm.