Somm’s Choice: Cheesy Wine Pairings to Love
In case you missed it, last Wednesday, January 20, was an important day in America. It was National Cheese Lover’s Day! Oh, and there was something about a new president.
So anyway, cheese! To quote the late, great Anthony Bourdain: “You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese.” Well, just call us hopeless because we love cheese, almost as much as we love wine. When Emilia, D’Albero, our Big Cheese, selected five cheeses worthy of celebration, our sommelier and buyer Michele Thomas jumped at the chance to find wines perfect for pairing.
Pied à Terre’s "Love on Mars" is the realization of Richard Luftig’s more than 20 years of experience as a wine buyer, sommelier, and David Bowie fan. The name means "foot to earth" and speaks to Luftig’s philosophy that the farmer’s footprint is "the best fertilizer and the most important sight in a vineyard." This beautiful and elegant Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon is filled with bright notes of ripe blueberry, black cherry, graphite and spice, with a soft and irresistible finish. It is absolutely gorgeous alongside the nutty flavor and tropical fruit notes of Uplands Cheese Pleasant Ridge Reserve.
Valdespino is a tiny jewel of a winery that dates back to 1264. This Fino must be one of the few wines in Jerez that is still fermented in 600-liter American oak botas, which is an incredible amount of work compared with fermenting tens of thousands of kilos of grapes (or even more) in a big stainless steel tank. This method was so labor intensive that it was discontinued in most wineries, as each barrel has its own character which contributes to the complexity of the blend. Furthermore, the bottled wine is on average 8-10 years old. The nose is very complex, showing the effect of the long lees contact: chalk, dried hay, aromatic herbs and salty almonds. Serve it up with Rodolphe Le Meunier Ossau Iraty Montagne for deliciously cheesy fun.
This organic blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Upper Loire Valley is unforgettable, just like the raw-milk, French-style Alpine hunk of deliciousness that is Springbrook Tarentaise Reserve. Created by Cyrille Sevin, a former math teacher, this natural wine is deliciously elegant, with mouth-watering, food-friendly acidity and a touch of salt that blends gorgeously with this cheese.
Klaus Lentsch “Amperg” Weissburgunder 2018
With 12.5 hectares under vine and a small production of 72,000 bottles per year, Klaus Lentsch is committed to low yields and high quality. The vineyards are situated at 400-600 m above sea level on sunny steep terraces, and planted in clay and gravelly soils. This Weissburgunder (aka Pinot Bianco or Pinot Blanc) possesses a delicious raciness and fruitness, with aromas of green apple and meadow blossoms. On the palate it is fresh and lively, so it was a small leap to come up with a pairing for this one―the creamy, mushroomy delight of Does’ Leap Caprella!
Day Wines “Hock & Deuce” Syrah 2016
Hailing from the idyllic rural country of Applegate Valley, this Syrah, Viognier blend from winemaker Brianne Day is a beautiful expression of terroir. Organic and sustainably farmed there is a very pure expression of fruit and the rich volcanic soils that create this wine. The presence of Viognier smooths out the more tenacious aspects of the Syrah leaving lush plum, cassis and blackberry notes with a hint of new leather, adding depth, spice, and floral notes that pair beautifully with the subtle tanginess and luxuriously pudgy texture of Alta Langa Castelbelbo. Get some!