Cheese headlines next wine tasting
By By Stan Torgerson / wine columnist
March 24, 2004
In any pairing of wine and fine imported cheese, the cheese must be the star. The wine is available in our city anytime. The cheese requires a trip to a more cosmopolitan place, such as New Orleans where such products are available.
But when the cheese is served, its companion becomes very important. It should enhance and flatter the cheese and that was our goal for this week's tasting. Here are the pairings, the cheese first and then the wine selected.
No. 1: Old Chatham Camembert, New York State, a soft white cheese. The wine will be the Pacific Echo sparkling wine from California, recognized as one of the best sparkling wines produced in the U.S. The Wine Spectator says Pacific Echo Cellars, founded in 1981, is committed to producing sparkling wines of quality, emulating the standards set by the finest champagne houses.
No. 2: Fromage D'Affinois, France, a wonderful double cream white cheese. The wine to be served is my absolute favorite sauvignon blanc, Cloudy Bay from New Zealand, the 2003 vintage. This is the first time in three years we've been able to find it.
The Cloudy Bay vineyards are located in the Marlborough region at the northern end of New Zealand's South Island. Grown under ideal conditions, the vines produce intensely flavored fruit with distinctive varietal character. This is an elegant aromatic wine with appealing fruit and crisp acidity. Their 2002 bottling was rated 93, extraordinary for a sauvignon blanc. The 2003 is every bit as good and perhaps one step better.
No. 3: Honey goat, Belgium, soft and flavorful with a touch of honey in the taste. This cheese demands a wine with a bit of sweetness to complement the flavor and our choice is the 2002 Fritz Haag riesling kabinett from Germany. Since 1605, the Haag ancestors have been make some of the world's most sought-after rieslings in the special microclimate of the steep Brauneberger vineyards. The year 2002 was a great year for German wine.
No. 4: Hawes Wengleydale cheddar from England, a somewhat aged hard cheese. If it's English cheddar, you know its perfect companion is a red wine, preferable a cabernet sauvignon.
We have reached out to Australia for the 1999 McGuigan Bin 400 cabernet sauvignon, a full bodied wine with good depth of flavor, rich in color with soft, fine grained tannins, chocolate and earthy flavors melded with an underlay of American oak. Bin 400 has been aged in small barrels and bottle-matured before release.
No. 5: Prima Donna gouda, Holland. Another tasty firm cheese. Our New Orleans cheesemaster urged us to serve this cheese with a shiraz so we have turned to a perennial favorite, the Greg Norman shiraz from Australia. The winery says this 2001 bottling is a "classic." The color is a rich crimson with purple hues, the bouquet is of dark plum, black cherry and spice. Its refined flavors are a complex mix of dark berries, plum and black cherry supported by spicy oak.
No. 6: Roaring Forites Blue cheese from Tasmania in South Australia. There is no question that the perfect wine to serve with blue cheese is port, either red or tawny but particularly red.
Our choice is the Quinta do Crasto 1997 late bottled vintage port. This powerful wine (19.5 alcohol) comes from a winery that was founded in 1615. It is aged up to four years in old wooden vats. The proprietors then carefully select their best wines of one single year to be bottled unfiltered as late harvest vintage port. The 1997 was not bottled until 2001 and has been resting and improving for an additional three years
And all the trimmings
All cheese will be served with Bremner wafers, the recognized finest cracker for cheese in the world. Bremner wafers are crisp and enhance the flavor of the cheese without competing with it. They have been extremely popular in previous wine and cheese tastings.
The tasting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Northwood Country Club. A door wine will be served, Karly's Pokerville as a preview to the April tasting of Karly wines when Karly's winemaker himself, Garth Cobb, will fly in from California to conduct the tasting of his great red zinfandels and their sauvignon blanc. Just call 482-0930. The price will be $25.
Reservations for the Karly tasting are being accepted but there are no seats available for this week's wine and cheese. It is completely sold out. This is an event we hold twice a year, in March and September. If you missed this one, a similar tasting will be coming along in six months. Reservations for that one are also being accepted now.