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Posts Filed Under The ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ Category

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

The Waning Days of Sauvignon Blanc

13930 Large e1379958620981 The Waning Days of Sauvignon Blanc

We have enjoyed some lovely weather around New York City for the past several months. After Sandy, we have had little to complain about. During the last few hours of summer it has seemed more like November. The cooler weather is good for many things, including the cheese appetite. It may not be quite as good for the Sauvignon Blanc fans, those that would prefer to have a chilled glass by the side of the pool. For many however, the weather matters little – this varietal is a favorite, even in February.

If other foods rise to the Sauvignon Blanc occasions only sporadically, it is nice to know that cheese can meld well with this grape in greater frequency. The goat cheeses are practically a given. As it turns out, the sheep cheeses favor this varietal too. About the only major cheese family that seems to shun Sauvignon Blanc is the family of blues, unless the wine happens to be one of those rare expressions of a “dessert” Sauvignon Blanc.

So among the goat cheeses you can count on Hoja Santa or Humboldt Fog to pair well with this grape. And from the sheep department the Abbaye de Belloc or the Pecorino Sardo make great partners. A Brillat Savarin (cow) triple crème makes a surprisingly nice mate, and in mixed milk bloomies, try the Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert. The wash rind cheeses can pair well too: try Epoisses, which likes just about any wine you throw its way. One of the bigger surprises is what Sauvignon Blanc can bring out of an older Gruyère or Comté. The phenomenal Cheshire, or one of the great British Cheddars, Westcombe or Keen’s, can marry well with Sauvignon Blanc too.

So as the days of Sauvignon Blanc begin to slip away, you can count on a number of cheeses of all stripes (save for the veined blues, not those stripes) to make for a memorable sunset.

- Max McCalman

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

My First Favorite Red

I clearly recall my first favorite red wine – a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I still reach out for them; they are my default wines. My first favorite food was cheese and to this day, no other food comes close to satisfying nearly so well. Unconvinced by the pairings I found in print, I took my own detailed notes on how cheeses and wines complemented each other. I thought Cabernet Sauvignon was not recommended often enough; there appeared to be too few cheese partners, and when I found suggestions the pairings relied heavily on the terroir factor, as though the ideal cheese and wine partners would be limited to cheeses and wines produced close to one another.

It is important to note that an acre well-suited for a wine making is usually used for that: producing grapes. Sometimes there is a dairy nearby so parts of that terroir factor may be supported, yet there is so much that goes into wine making, and arguably, there is at least as much that goes into dairying. To say that because they are produced side by side is just a little too easy. The cheeses and wines crafted close to one another can actually clash. As an example of one of those clashes I think of some of the Loire Valley chèvres of western France. There are three white wine varietals grown nearby that marry well with this family of cheeses: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and to an extent, the Melon de Bourgogne. You also find one of Cabernet Sauvignon’s parents produced in the area – Cabernet Franc. The Chinon made from this grape is cited as a good partner for those cheeses, yet most people seem to find this pairing to be very disappointing.

When I began experimenting with cheese and wine pairings I wanted to find as many matches as possible for my beloved Cabernet Sauvignon. I branched out to far-flung regions to find suitable cheese partners. From what I found it appears that the Cabernet Sauvignons prefer cow cheeses, which is a good thing since more than 90% of the world’s cheeses are produced from cow milk. The sheep milk cheeses can pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon, as they do with most varietals, and then there are the occasional goat cheese successes.

Some of the standout cheese partners for this most noble red wine include: Andeerer Schmuggler, Appenzeller, Fladä, Gruyère, Prattigauer, Sbrinz and Vacherin Fribourgeois, all from Switzerland; Barely Buzzed from Utah, Tarentaise from Vermont; Thomasville Tomme from Georgia; four-year-old Gouda and Roomano from Holland; Bra and Blu del Moncenisio from Italy; Cantalet and Le Moulis from France; and La Peral from Spain. None of these cheeses come from Napa but each of them makes great partners for these lovely California Cabernet Sauvignons.

Max McCalman

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Artisanal Cheese & Mercer Wine 101

Mercer Artisanal Cheese & Mercer Wine 101

Our Cheese & Wine 101 event on Wednesday, March 28th will feature four recent releases from Washington’s Mercer Estate wines: a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, a 2010 Chardonnay and a 2008 Merlot, all from Columbia Valley; and a 2010 Riesling from Yakima Valley. I will be joined by wine expert Gerard Nastasi who will speak about the winery, winemaking in Washington state, as well as the four wines themselves. This session will be especially interesting: tasting four different wines from the same wine maker, three of which are produced from grapes grown in the same valley. To better distinguish each of these wines we will select seven different perfectly ripened cheeses to compare with them. As you taste the different cheeses you will hear how those differences arise from different milk types, different methods of production, and different aging.

The differences in each of these wines will be illuminated by the mix of cheeses. In all, we will taste all 28 combinations to see how each of the matches rate. Some will be better than others; some will be exceptional. This interactive “exercise” will give you a greater appreciation for each of these varietals and how they express themselves differently when you taste them with different cheeses. You can expect to experience some cheese and wine “marriages-made-in-heaven.”

With these great cheeses and wines, there will likely be few clashes.

Max McCalman

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

National Goat Cheese Month

logs National Goat Cheese Month
August is goat cheese month for a couple of reasons. Most goat cheeses are at their peaks when they are on the young side. If it is a relatively aged goat cheese (say around four months of age) the milk would have been drawn when the animals had some of the fresh vegetation that April brings, or if it is a younger cheese there should be a good diversity of plants available in July or August. Many dairy goats have wild berries and fresh herbs in their summer diets. The more food choices the animals have, the more flavorful the milk will be, which translates to a better cheese.

pc 10140 National Goat Cheese Month
August, being one of the hottest months of the year, is a time when our cheese choices are for the lighter varieties, such as those younger goat cheeses. When the temperature creeps up into the nineties or higher we might skip the blues, the big-flavored or the stinky cheeses and choose those lighter creamier goat cheeses such as the Laurier instead. Even though most goat cheeses are still available in fine form later in the year, they are especially favored in August.

imgname  a good new zealand sauvignon blanc   50226711  flickr 3333482383 National Goat Cheese Month
Our choices of wines or beers veer toward the lighter styles in August too. The Sauvignon Blancs (a varietal whose favorite cheeses are produced with goat milk) or the young Chardonnays that are fermented in stainless steel instead of oak, the floral Viogners and dry Albariños or Chenin Blancs; all these white wines and many others pair exceptionally well with the goat milk cheeses. These cheeses also blend in beautifully with our cool pilsners, wheat beers, and our summer ales.

When you follow the logic of the CheeseClockâ„¢ pairing tool this is precisely what is indicated, the lighter cheeses such as the younger milder goat cheeses pair best with the lighter wines and beers.

Max McCalman