Several of the Book Babes got together at my place for the second annual Winter Solstice wine tasting. Everyone was asked to bring a wine and cheese to share and no one was stingy about their picks. A great afternoon, with wonderful wine, outstanding cheeses and fabulous femmes.
Louise brought Veuve Clicquot champagne and sushi. This combo was so much fun because the champagne was tickling the inside of my mouth, and the wasabi, soy, and pickled ginger all adding their unique sensations. More of a mouthfeel than a taste experience, but it really woke up the palate. Truly 'sense-ational' pairing! It was interesting to learn how sushi evolved on its way to North America from Japan, changing shape (adopting its current form of rolls), adapting local ingredients, and catering to tastes by using a sweeter sushi rice.
Liz P. treated us to two different types of Riesling, two different types of Canadian cheddar and a venison pate. We tasted an Alsace Trimbach 2007, followed by a Mosel-Saar Ruwet Studert-Prum 2004 called Wehlener Sonnenuhr (Spatlese). The second was the general favourite. On either side of the river the soil is steep and slatey, so in addition to a fruity taste there is a hint of minerality.
A very 'clean' taste. The cheddar and venison seemed the perfect pairing - but as Liz pointed out, Riesling will go with just about anything. I had forgotten how outstanding a good Canadian cheddar can be. We enjoyed a 12 year old orange cheddar and a 7 year old white.
Nicki shared a Canadian wine but paired it with a French cheese. Flat Rock Cellars 2007 Chardennay was totally unoaked - or "unplugged" as the winery says, "no special effects here, just our sincerest gesture to a very noble wine". The vintner is part of the VQA Ontario appellation of the Twenty Mile Bench (along the Niagra Escarpment). The cheese was Loirier (goat), with a white pine ash. Most of the goat cheese I've had is very white and crumbly, like chevre or feta, but this was semi-hard. Absolutely delicious! Another reason to love goat cheese is that it has fewer calories and is much easier to digest than cow or sheep's milk cheeses.
Debra's pairing was a Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore, Zenato 2007 with a Pecorino. The wine is made from the corvina grape varietal. As soon as the fermentation is completed of the dried grapes for Amarone, selected lots of Valpolicella are then “re-passed”. The second fermentation slightly increases the alcoholic content and gives the wine deeper colour, increased extract, and complex aromas. It is more affordable than Amarone but hits many of the same notes. The chunk of salty pecorino was a great complement.
I did the Barolo Fontanafredda 2001, but ended up matching it with two different Italian cheeses. When I went to Alex Cheese Farms to pick up the black Italian truffle cheese, I found out it was from southern and not northern Italy, so it really wasn't from the same region at all. I ended up finding what couldn't have been a more perfect match: a Testun Barolo cheese from Piedmont that ages for 4 months in a small oak barrel under the residue of Nebbiolo grapes. The skins of the grapes encase the semi-hard milk cheese, adding a nice crunch to the taste experience. Totally decadent.
We finished with Nicolette's choice of Taylor Fladgate First Reserve Port and selection of two artisinal blue cheeses. The port was a beautiful deep garnet, had the scent of licorice and tasted of stewed fruit. Very nicely balanced. The finish lasted long enough to colour the taste of the blue cheeses and soften the strong statement. A very classic pairing with a well-deserved reputation!