Cabernet Sauvignon and Le Moulis

I have been a huge fan of Cabernet Sauvignon for almost as long as I have been a fan of cheese. There was a time when I would take advantage of the case discount price of Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant Bordeaux expecting that I would be able to age it successfully in my basement. Few bottles stayed around longer than six months.

When I am choosing a red wine, I take note of the wines that have this varietal as a major component, or those wines that are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Even though the tannins in a Cabernet Sauvignon can be a bit harsh, those tannins can be softened with a buttery cow cheese such as Le Moulis. Interestingly, as this cheese matures and the flavors become earthier and funkier, the wines from this grape tend to soften and mellow. It is as though the cheese goes in one direction and the wine goes another.

It is this maturation that makes Le Moulis and Cabernet Sauvignon such excellent partners. A more astringent Cabernet Sauvignon is well balanced by the milder flavored and younger Le Moulis. The smooth and familiar butter flavored Le Moulis will meld into a more youthful and vigorous Cabernet Sauvignon. Then as this cheese matures and the flavors deepen, it will find better balance with the less strident and aged wine.

There are many variables that can characterize the wines that are made with Cabernet Sauvignon. The terroir: the soil, the climate, the water, etc., as well as the vinification and aging methods. I recall one occasion when I tasted a cheese quite similar to Le Moulis from the Pyrenees, with two 100% Napa Cabernet Sauvignons, same producer, same vintage but different vineyards. Though both of the pairings were excellent, each wine brought out different “finishes” with the cheese.

There are some varying and related qualities in this grape, no matter where it is grown and no matter how it is made into wine that will give the typical Cabernet Sauvignon profile. The flavor/aroma components include: green pepper, lead pencil, cedar, and cigar box. The meritage blends that include Cabernet Sauvignon can add other dimensions to the wines, and these marry very well with Le Moulis as well.

The better known cow version of this cheese can elevate several other varietals as well. Whenever I think of a suitable cheese partner for that Cabernet Sauvignon which I favor, I remember to check to see if I have Le Moulis. This fecund cheese provides the platform for this varietal to best exhibit its noble finery. What better organoleptic profile in a cheese to play off the profile of this workhorse of a grape – rich butter and toothsome Le Moulis underneath an elegant wine.

I recall feeling a little dismayed earlier in my cheese and wine pairing career when I found that one of my favorite wines did not always blend with whatever cheese I had before me. Cabernet Sauvignon helped me to appreciate the importance of the texture of a wine as well as its flavor and aroma components when making successful pairings of cheeses and wines. Fortunately this grape “prefers” cow, which is the milk from which most cheeses are made.

Spread the curd!
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Posted by Max McCalman

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