Yes, today is one of the most important national holidays in the Cogill household as life is way too short not to enjoy a good bottle of wine and a tasty bit of cheese. And, whether it be creamy dreamy or super sharp, or well-aged and funky, each delicious slice of cheese deserves the perfect pairing.
For the creamy dreamy, i.e. Brie, St. Andres, Triple Cream, etc. bubbles are best. From premium Champagne to light and bright refreshers from Italy, Spain, South Africa, or almost every corner of the U.S.A. sparkling wine is the best friend of creamy cheese. With a lovely balance between zesty citrus and orchard fruit and nutty marzipan and brioche, the classic Yellow Label Veuve Clicquot Champagne ($60) will never steer you wrong, whether you enjoy your St. Andres with breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
For creamy and tangy, i.e. Crottins, Chevre, goat cheese, etc. light, citrus, wildflower, and herb-filled Sauvignon Blanc is best, like the gorgeous wines of Loire Valley. Loire Valley is the home of some of the finest goat cheese in the world, crafted in versions both fresh and light to nicely aged and funky. Likewise, it is the home of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume filled with mineral intense silex, soft herb, and citrus filled Sauvignon Blanc. Steely, crisp, lively Sauvignon Blanc shines in France’s Loire Valley, heavily influenced by the terroir, with cooling breezes off the Loire and Cher Rivers rolling in from the Atlantic, keeping sunshine-filled fruit fresh, with racy acidity. Silex (flintstone) soils add a mineral-rich intensity to the wines, melding with ripe citrus, soft herbs, and fresh-cut grass. The Quincy sub-region lies just down the road from Sancerre, where Domaine Mardon has been crafting luscious wines since the 1800s. Domaine Mardon Tres Vieilles Vignes Cuvée ($20) is produced from vines aged at least 50-80 years old, giving the wine concentration, depth, and beautiful texture. The classic Quincy pairing is fresh goat cheese, smoked salmon, sushi, or summer salads.
For Manchego and other sheep milk cheese consider Rueda (Verdejo) or Rioja (Tempranillo). The wine and cheese of Spain pair perfectly together. Medium-bodied, earthy, slightly spicy reds, like Tempranillo, or zesty, lush, lively Verdejo are perfect with the slightly briny, sharp, hard sheep’s milk Manchego from the neighboring region of La Mancha. Beronia Rioja Reserva red ($20) and Rueda white ($15) would be perfect options.
For Jarlsberg, Gruyere, or swiss try a light-to-medium-bodied red like Pinot Noir. Fruity and light, yet also earthy, light to medium-bodied Pinot Noir melds harmoniously with tangy, nutty Gruyere or Swiss Cheese. From the cool rolling hills of Napa Valley’s Los Carneros region Frank Family crafts luscious, well-rounded Napa Valley Pinot Noir ($38). The region is heavily influenced by blustery winds billowing in from the San Pablo Bay ensuring delicate vines are kept free of disease, as well as overall moderate temperatures throughout the year giving fruit time to develop gradually, with each working together to keep the fruit’s freshness intact while ripe juicy flavors develop. The resulting wine shines with wild strawberry, pomegranate, and raspberry, with subtle wildflower and soft herb notes and a bit of warm baking spice on the finish.
For Roquefort, Camembert, or blue cheese the classic pairing is port wine, but if you prefer to enjoy your blue before dessert consider a light-to-medium-bodied Barbera d’ Asti from Piemonte. With great acidity and balanced tannin, Barbera is a welcome pairing, cutting through aged, herbaceous blue. Marchesi di Gresi Barbera d’Asti DOCG ($20) is fragrant and fresh upon opening revealing layers of fresh violets and wild blackberry leading to a palate filled with ripe cherry, blueberry, and raspberry.
For hard cheese, like a well-aged Parmesan you have to head straight to Italy, and then have fun because every corner of the gastronomy-filled country is filled with incredible wines. From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the rocky slopes of the Dolomite Mountains in Alto Adige to the volcanic soils of Sicily, each region crafts delicious selections ideal for Parmesan pairing. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, from the celebrated village of Montepulciano DOCG within Tuscany, elevates Sangiovese to craft wines with finesse and power, elegance with density, concentration with purity. The Dei family began with owning their own vineyards in 1964, selling their fruit to neighboring winemakers. In 1984 they began making their own wine, expanding to add additional vineyards in the area, creating world-class wines with character. Bold and powerful, Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ($30) is a full-bodied red wine that leaps from the glass with notes of roasted espresso, balsamic, black fruit, licorice, and toasted orange peel.