Cheese and wine maybe as old as the Flintstones but not – it seems - always a match made in heaven. Usually matched with fortified or sweet wines, cheese also serves to make more disagreeable dry wines ‘makliker om in jou lyf te kry’ (easier to get into your body) as my viticulture lecturer used to say.
The problems include the diversity of cheese, the coating of dairy fat that dulls your palate, and too many tight entertainment budgets marrying Chateaux de Cardboard with gaudy yellow Gouda.
The classics include Port and Stilton, Champagne and Chevre (goats), Sauternes (noble late harvest) and Gorgonzola, where alcohol, acidity and sweetness respectively compete - but not always respectfully - with dairy's richness for a share of palate.
Adoro winemaker Ian Naudé has crafted the ideal compromise, a natural sweet Mourvèdre that’s neither too sweet nor alcoholic with a frisky acidity and light framework of tannin which showed remarkable versatility with a range of cheeses last night at Cape Town’s L’Aperitivo restaurant.
|Adoro Mourvedre natural sweet red|
The most voted-for match was the Gorgonzola which initially shortened the wine’s finish - actually no mean feat when you consider Gorgonzola stops most wines in their tracks - and the wine quickly bounced back on the second sip with its acidity livening things up again.
My favourite match was with Asiago, an Italian semi-soft cheese aged for 12 – 14 months with DOP (protected origin) status i.e. if your Asiago is not Asiago be prepared for a visit from the cheese mafia, capeche? The wine gained additional poise, and the X factor – in this case an ephemeral quality difficult to pin down.
The wines versatility was the outstanding feature, pairing well across 6 diff cheeses from Gouda to Gorgonzola – the Gouda seemed nuttier, the Camembert seemed to make the wine more elegant, the Asiago made for a complex, haunting match, the Taleggio was the only minor disappointment (touch of bitterness) while the Gruyere was easily in the top three – at first buttery then, after the wine, mushrooms and a hint of leather aromas while the wine showed red cherries on the palate ie juicy and crunchy.
The wine will retail at around R110 per 500ml bottle. The ideal balance here appears to be 13,5% alc, 8g/lt total acidity and 55g/lt residual sugar for maximum cheese versatility and some smart wine making.