CHEESE AND WINE, LIFE AS IT SHOULD BE LIVED II BY ALEX TESTROTE
THURSDAY, 25 JUNE 2009
Once again a selection of the artisan cheeses carried by Trethowans Dairy in Bristol were asked to step up to the mark and show how they perform in tandem with a selection of wines as chosen this time by Peter Taylor, co owner, wine buyer & founder chef at the waterside venue, River Station,
The event showed how subjective food & wine pairing can be.
Peter, not surprisingly, decided to attempt to match wines he had personally selected to grace the wine list at the restaurant. I personally know what a daunting task putting together a restaurant wine list can be, balancing personal prejudices with commercial considerations, food matches, & just plain quaffing.
The first cheese was our very own Gorwydd Caerphilly, which once again hit its stride alongside a zingy unoaked Chardonnay, albeit this time a new world version. Kim Crawford 2007 NZ. There seems a consistent theme occurring here, but a serendipitous one.
My favourite of the evening was Charlie Westheads Dorstone goats cheese. This cheese is really tasting at its optimum best this year, and was placed alongside a neglected, & sometimes derided white wine, Verdicchio Casal di Serra 2007, Umani Ronchi is a fine example of this Italian classic, and I felt this was a well considered & enjoyable match. The acidity of the wine was beautifully softened by the creaminess of the cheese, really exposing the quality of the underlying fruits.
I was really looking forward to tasting the next wine. A red Loire is always a bit of a treat & the Saumur Champigny, Dom Filliatreau did not disappoint. It was served alongside a semi hard ewes cheese, Spenwood, made by Anne & Andy Wigmore. There were some harmonious notes here, but I felt both the cheese & the wine were both better appreciated separately.
The Tunworth cheese, the amazing English camembert- a -likee, as I have previously explained, is a macho bedfellow when it comes to matchmaking & I know that Peter also travelled to purgatory and back finding something he could publicly claim to be its equal. What he came up with was a pugnacious little Corsican that really showed Napoleonic vigour. Whilst there were Cab Sauv & Merlot in the blend, some punchy little local grape varieties once again proved that edgy, regional varietals have a place in world wine making. Domaine de Torraccia 07 Porto Vecchio is a great food wine.
Joe Schneiders Stichelton cheese, again, shouted out for the sweetness of a more generally accepted dessert wine. However Peter pulled back from the brink slightly by not going for a full on honeyed, botrysised wine. Monbazillac is another of those fine wines that has slipped off the radar a bit of late, lighter & more subtle than a Sauternes,this was another match that really did big favours to both parties.
The evening reached a climax with a bowl of raclette, Jamie Montgomery, better known for his cheddar cheese, also produces a small quantity of a washed rind cheese made with rich Jersey milk. In conjuction with Bill Oglethorpe from NYD this savoury, raclette style cheese has been developed. It is toasted on the grill, & scraped over a bed of new potatoes, cornichon & silverskin onions. This called for some big guns to be brought out, and battle duly commenced. Barbera d’Alba 2005 Aldo Varja was the heavy artillery employed on this occasion, but any gutsy red would have worked. However, this wine is a good inclusion on a restaurant list and would equally work with any roasted or grilled red meat dish.
I feel River Station did us proud,not only with the imaginative pairings, but also the wonderful harbourside setting on a balmy summer evening, & the generosity of their welcome.