3 Aug 2006

Tour de Fromage

Kirkham's Cheese THE KNACK with successful cheese and wine matching is to ensure one element doesn't overwhelm the other. Keep it simple. Avoid strange cheeses studded with chillis, Gouda with cumin... smoked, even Tandoori-flavoured cheeses.

I co-introduced six pairs at Vinopolis, which on balance largely worked, provoking some controversy in the process.

All cheeses came from Neal's Yard Dairy, Borough Market, which along with Brindisa, were the first artisan food mongers to appetise the area's gastronomic growth.

1. Champagne Heidsieck Mise en Cave '01 [£18.49-£28.48, Majestic] with Parmigiano Reggiano, Cesere and Ferrucio Barruffi, Modena (cow's milk, unpasteurised)
The poised acidity of this complex wine - which is mildly reminiscent of tonic water - cut through the saltiness of the parmesan. The small, tight, uniform bubbles appeased the hard, crumbly texture of the cheese. The wine is made from about 60p/c 2000 fruit and 40p/c of Heidsieck's prized stash of older vintages.
Would also consider: Blancs de Blancs Nyetimber
Dorstone Ash2. Howard Park Riesling '05 (Great Southern) [£8.49] with Dorstone Ash (soft goats, unpasteurised)
This focussed, dry riesling from a maritime clime and made from free run juice, evoked lime zest, with a thrust of refreshing acidity, perfect to penetrate the acrid ash cover of this foie gras feel cheese.
Would also consider: Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Three Choirs Bacchus (herbaceous, good acidity)

Berkswell3. Gonzalez Byass Amontillado with Berkswell Hard (unpasteurised sheeps).
The hard cheese from Coventry was drilled with an abstract wet walnut nuttiness from the flor-laden dry sherry, aged in wood. Incidentally El Cristo is an 157,000 litre sherry cask at Gonzalez Byass, surrounded by twelve 6000 litre 'apostles', including Judas (which contains vinegar).
Would also consider: Warre's Ottima 10yo Tawny (nutty, enough alochol to cut through)
4. Louis Jadot Poncereau Fleurie '05 [£11.99] with Kirkham's Lancashire (pasteurised cow)
Served slightly cool, the cherry Gamay grape pleasured the buttery, mushroom crumble of this "fluffy monster" [Graham Kirkham] without swarming it with tannin.
Would also consider: Bovin Pinot Noir (from Macedonia's first privately owned winery)
5. Southbrook Farms Vidal Ice Wine '03 [£25, Majestic at Vinopolis] with Montgommery Cheddar (cows)
The tough skinned Vidal grape, a hybrid cross of Ugni Blanc x Rayon d'Or gives plentiful Canadian sugar and acidity, alas possibly too much so in this case, temporarily swamping the true cheddar from ‘Champion Cheesemaker of the World’.
Would also consider: Viognier from Australia (similar aromatic, pineapple and peach quality, but less dense)

Strathdon Blue6. Corte Giara Valpolicella Amarone '01 [£25, Majestic at Vinopolis] with Strathdon Blue (cows)
The perfect match in my mind, this relatively intense Scotch blue from a dairy down the road from Glenmorange melted like Dolcelatte, hence the rich, raisiny, rising bitterness of this contemplative wine match from the Veneto.
Would also consider: Valpolicella Recioto, Mas Amiel Maury (both highly concentrated)