Last week we both had the pleasure of being invited to a wine & cheese tasting evening. I’ve let Mrs B take the lead on this one; she’s far more of a cheeses (and wine) expert than I am, so I’ll leave her to it…although I’ll pop in now and then with my opinion…..
There are lots of food and drink Do’s and Don’t that people feel the need to stick to for traditions sake, personally I say to hell with them it’s your money your choice (unless someone orders their fillet steak well done. Then I think they’re doing something wrong!).
Last week we spent an evening with cheese suppliers Bradbury’s of Buxton and the Albert Square Chophouse sommeliers George and Marcin; who also believe in mixing things up a little, to try a range of their selected Christmas cheeseboard choices and wines from the Chophouses cellars and only two of them were red.
We started with Old Amsterdam, an award winning Dutch cheese that has been made since the 1920’s and is a characterful, full bodied cheese with sweet caramel notes. (I picked out the caramel flavours first!) To accompany it was a Three Choirs Coleridge Hill, a white wine with good acidity and just the right amount of sweetness making it cleansing and complimentary.
We followed up with Red Fox from Belton Farm in Cheshire, made using milk from a local herd and matured for 14 months. A red Leicester style cheese this was creamy with a matured bite and the 2012 Kleine Zalze chenin blanc had the right mix of dryness with floral notes.
Our cheddar was from Quicks in the southwest of England and is wrapped in muslin and coated in pigs lard before maturing. Joined by our first red of the evening, Kleine Rust Stellenbosch , a soft lightly peppered wine. I found this red wasn’t strong enough for the cheese, far too overpowered. Mentioning this to George, who had asked for our opinions all night, I suggested it would be better suited to a Malbec. I didn’t think for a second he would bring me a glass of one and another plate of cheese; nice to say I was right and this suited it perfectly!
A classic from the continent next a lovely ripe Brie de Meaux with a decision to make between the French Fortant Sauvignon Blanc and the Marlborough Mamaku Sauvignon Blanc. Personally I preferred the French wine as I found it softer against the heavy nose of the cheese whereas the Marlborough was more perfumed for me and I think this cheese should be allowed to shine.
Our final fromage was Cropwell Bishop Stilton, made by the Scafe family from Leicestershire this was one of the first cheeses to be served on Concord – very prestigious indeed. We had Grahams LBV 2007 port, rich and with the right amount of sweetness there is a reason this combination has been served together for such a long time. We were also treated to a Royal Tokaji, this Hungarian wine was once so prized by the Russian Tsars they based an army on its route to ensure their supply. With similar notes to the port this was a different combination that really worked.
If this has given you food for thought for your next cheese board those lovely folks at Old Amsterdam have shared some tips to make it a success. Allow 50g per person and make up your board using blue, aged, soft and hard cheeses. Choose three to five different types for variety and try different milk types like cows, goats and sheeps. Finally take your time over eating and start with the light cheeses first; oh and make sure your include some Old Amsterdam of course!