Alex Testrote

Alex Testrote

Cheese & Wine, Life As It Should Be Lived

MONDAY, 15 JUNE 2009

Averys may be a fine, old, established Bristol firm, but they proved they were no stick-in-the-mud’s when challenged to match some wines to a selection of  award winning cheeses at the press launch for the Bristol Food & Wine Fair. No cliched, text book pairings for them.

First up Berkswell ewes cheese with Averys house champagne, being only 20% Chardonnay the characteristic clean, biscuity flavour of the two pinot grapes carried the sweet, fruity cheese notes, and the underlying citrus notes of the Chardonnay blended  impeccably with the acidity in the cheese.

With the Gorwydd we were treated to 100% Chardonnay in the form of Averys 2006 White Burgundy, which is made with grapes from vineyards bordering Mersault, and it shows! This is what French Chardonnay is all about and really brought the bright lemony flavours of our favourite Caerphilly to life, summer picnics in the park here we come.

So what do you drink with a great Somerset cheddar cheese? Well, like George Keen, whose cheese this was, we were given something that spoke lovingly of its origins. Valtorto 2006 is produced in the Douro valley using indigenous grapes from the region, deep & dusty as an old cheesecloth. I want to start a twinning committee

The next selection perplexed me on first encounter, a NZ  pinot noir with Charlie Westhead’s Dorstone goat cheese? Pinot Noir is a tricky grape & goats cheeses often hard to match with wine, but again we were  shown  that expertise & experimentation can lead to exciting discoveries. The berry fruits were not killed by the zestiness of the cheese as I feared, and the smoky back notes added a savouriness to the Dorstone I previously had never known.

For most present I think the penultimate pairing was the star of the show. If you are one of those people who “Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” you would be in your element. To sit along side Joe Schneider’s infamous Stichelton was something equally audacious. A Vin Doux Naturel from Maury dated from 1928, and no that is not a typo. This was the finest flavours of figs, raisins, spices, toffee, chocolate reduced to an essence and amalgamated by time to produce something Heston Blumenthal can only dream of.

After that I almost felt sorry for the humble Vin de Pays D’Oc that had to follow on, but what a trooper it was. 70% Grenache tuned up with 30% Sryrah the Hautes Valles 2006 was determined to have its say. As was Supreme Champion Tunworth of Hyde Farm. This amazing Camembert style cheese is so rich & vegetabely it could bully most wines, but the grapes from these old vines were more than up to it  and together they put on a grand finale.

In November we are asking Patrick Pigny from Great Western Wines to do a similar exercise for his wine evening at Goldbrick House. I feel the gauntlet has well and truly been thrown down.

Alex Testrote is one of Trethowan’s Dairy Shop’s most experienced and knowledgeable cheesemongers.

He works in the shop on a regular basis, runs our Tobacco Factory market stall and manages the wholesale side of the business.

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