Which Cheese, which wine? It’s an age old question, but we’re here to help. Let’s begin our Cheese & Wine series with four French Stunners to celebrate the upcoming Bastille Day. You can find Essential Ingredient Newcastle’s Cheese Counter open and ready to fulfill all of your fromage-based needs 7 days per week.
One of the oldest known cheeses in the world, Ossau-Iraty hails from the Occitan-Basque region of France. It has a history dating back 4000 years, said to be of mythical origins. The ancient myth has the Greek god Apollo’s shepherd son, Aristee, making the first Ossau-Iraty. Beneath its amber, mold-dappled rind lies an ivory paste that is both slightly granular and very rich, boasting toasted wheat aromas and nutty, grassy-sweet flavors.
It pairs perfectly with a flinty Chablis, traditionally vintified in Stainless Steel Vats with little oak influence. The crispness and purity of aroma let the toasty, nutty and sweet finish of Ossau Iraty shine through.
Le Marquis Chevre de Rambouille
This beautiful ash-covered blue is made near the Chateau Rambouille – the very same castle where Marie Antoinette ‘played peasant’ at a model dairy King Louis built for her. Perhaps she feasted on fine blue cheeses like this one while she strolled around her castle. This Chevre is made with the freshest goat’s milk from a herd of 600. Due to the exceptional quality of their milk, this cheese avoids the normal goat-y pungency and instead rewards you with a soft, supple body and very fine blue veins that impart a mild, savoury note. The cheese is then covered in protective ash to encourage proper aging.
Banyuls is a phenomenal match here – this fortified Red has a natural sweetness that isn’t overwhelming like many dessert wines. It retains its complexity and fresh acidity, comparable to a ripe strawberry with notes of good milk chocolate.
Curious in appearance, with a distinct pebbled exterior that resembles a rockmelon, or some might say – a cannonball – this cheese has a hidden surprise inside. Once opened, you’ll see the craggy exterior give way to an incredibly vibrant orange. This cow’s milk cheese has a lightly oily texture and subtle chew that gives way to intensely savoury, parmesan-like flavours when young. As it ages, these flavours give way to deep notes of hazlenut. You’ll also note salty-sweet, caramel flavours that make this cheese more-ish and a fantastic, unconventional addition to a cheeseboard. It was widely regarded as French President Charles de Gaulle’s favourite cheese.
If you’re looking for a lighter match, Champagne adds a beautiful effervescence and highlights the salty-sweet caramel notes of the cheese. Rhone Valley reds are also sublime – they can stand up to the savoury, meaty side of Mimolette.
This cheese walks in tandem with it’s Alpine cousins, think Gruyere, Comte and Emmenthal. The cows that produce this cheese live an idyllic life at high altitude, munching on pristine pastures full of native flora. The cheese itself is a labour of love and goes through several maturation stages that include beechwood hooping and brining. The wheels are then laid on spruce boards and salted. Finally the cheese is smear-ripened with a mixture called morge which produces its strong flavour and pale yellow rind. Although Beaufort does have a degree of savoury pungency, the light floral and grassy flavours of alpine pasture shine through.
As this cheese is produced in the Savoie Region, wines from the same mountainous climate pair extremely well. Roussanne would be wonderful, with it’s own notes of flora and honey.
For all of your Cheese & Wine pairing needs, visit The Essential Ingredient Newcastle, located inside The Junction Fair. You can also give us a call at 0249261991. We can build cheese platters and celebration cakes to meet every budget and need and would love to collaborate with you to create your perfect fromage-based fantasy.