You may not like the flavor of some cheese alone. But when it strikes a harmony with all the flavors of the wine, you have the perfect bite.
First consider the softness or firmness of the cheese. The softer the cheese, the whiter and sweeter the wine should be. With harder cheeses, the wine should be more powerful. Brock's cheese plate (from their dinner menu) includes four cheeses.
The first cheese selection is Ossau Iraty, an aged, Spanish sheep milk cheese that is a firm and has flavors similar to Parmesan yet nuttier. For this cheese Lynnsee selected Benziger Merlot 2002 from Sonoma County, a lovely wine that compliments rather than overpowers the cheese.
Humble Fog is an aged goat cheese, which makes a nice introduction to cheese for people who have tasted goat yet not aged goat cheeses. “It is more assertive. The center is younger, creamy and soft, but the outside is more acidic and nutty,” Scott explains. The cheese needs something sweet and pairs well with the melon notes, silky texture and mouthwatering finish of Dolce 2002—Napa Valley's late harvest “liquid gold.”
The cow and sheep milk blend Robiola Bosina meets its match with Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label NV. Champagne goes well with most cheeses. Blanc de Blancs go well with softer cheeses. And Blanc de Noirs stand up to medium and hard cheeses. “The yeasty characteristics of Champagne meld together with the Robiola Bosina, and the bubbles cleanse the palate,” Lynnsee describes.
Fromage de Thones from Savoie is cellar or cave aged. This unassertive cheese with a creamy texture, herbal aroma and a nutty aftertaste is the next best thing to Reblochon, which can no longer be imported to the United States. Girard Artistry 2002 is a blend of Napa Valley fruit that brings forth the cheese's understated flavors.
Big bold wines bring out flavors in cheese that aren't as subtle. So for the French cows milk Bleu des Causses, we chose Louis Martini Monte Rossi Cabernet Sauvignon 2001. The two strike back at one another. The wine's tannins cut through the salty and assertiveness of the cheese. Incorporate pear and walnut along with the wine, and the flavors make another perfect bite.