Sometimes I wonder why I write this blog… all for fun… no remuneration… oh… umm… oops – yes well – umm… now that you mention it… yes that *is* in fact the aftermath of a recent wine and cheese tasting – all in the name of Les Vaches of course. Ahem.
So – one of our fabulous supporters, DiscoverVin, knows an awful lot about the wines of South West France, around those wonderful Pyrenees mountains. The Tour is travelling anti-clockwise this year so around Stage 10 (July 12) the tour will head down towards the Pyrenees.
So you’ve got a bit of time to get organised – but DiscoverVin and our good selves have done some of the hard work for you. Yes – what to drink and what cheese to eat! The wines come in a handy six-pack, ready for you. The cheese was chosen with the assistance of Anthony Femia, cheesemonger (and proud cow-respondent!) who takes care of the cheese at the Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder.
We started with a chilled dry white wine – the Chateau Jolys Jurancon Sec 2009 (Stage 13) a light, lively “grassy” white. Nice aperitif, not too complex or difficult. We drank it with some Petit Basque, a cooked curd sheep’s milk cheese from the Pyrenees, with meadow and hay flavours. This cheese is rubbed with paprika to give its rind a light red/orange colour. “If there’s only one cheese I eat during this tour – this will be it!” exclaimed one of our herd. (Quelle horreur! Mais this is not un fromage au lait du vaches!)
Wine 2: Chateau La Rayre Róse 2009, from Colombier in the heart of Bergerac on the Dordogne River (Stage 10). It was a pretty wine, it smelt like a bunch of red fruits, or flowers. The wine was creamy and not too dry. We drank this with Roy de Valles, a semi-hard ewe and goats milk cheese from the Basque region.
Wine 3: Domain du Crampilh Madrian Vignes Vielles 2006 This lovely savoury red was a real winner. I think I can go on record as saying it was the herd’s favourite. It would have been delicious with a Bouef Bourgingnon, but we paired it with some cold meat and Jean Faup Vache unpasterurised washed rind semi-hard cows milk cheese from Pyrenees. This cheese was delightful and due to the word Vache appearing in its official name, I am going to declare it our unofficial cheese mascot for le Tour. It inspired another one of the herd to exclaim “If there’s only one cheese I eat during this tour – this will be it!”.
Wine 4: Zette Rouge 2005 (Stage 10) – travelling through the Lot Valley, close to Cahors, this Malbec was fruity and rich. We paired it with Ossau Iraty – and semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese. Unfortunately this wasn’t a great match. We tried it with all the cheese we had, all the meats we had, but the only one that paired up beside it was the gorgonzola, which was a bit of a surprise.
Wine 5: Pacherenc du Vin Bilh Moelleux-Cuvée Celeste 2007 (Stage 12) A lovely golden honeyed late harvest sweety, this was sweeter than I expected it to be. Now it may have been because it was getting late in the day or… no, I guess I can’t hide that we’d had a few sherbets, but we drank this wine with more of the Petit Basque and it was lovely.
Wine 6: Jurançon Moelleux Cuvée Tradition 2008 (stage 13) This lovely light, slightly dry sweet wine probably should have been lined up prior to the Celeste. It’s also suggested that you drink it with terrine. We drank this with some Gorgonzola Dolce (well, it’s typical that an Italian would nudge it’s way in somewhere isn’t it?).
We also tried the sweet wines with desserts – and some of the meats, and then back to the cheese – it *was* getting on you know!
So there you have a run down on some wines and cheese of (mostly) South-Western France.
Thanks to DiscoverVin for the wine, Ben Knight of Ben and Wine for wine knowledge and a practiced palate, and Anthony Femia of Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder for matching our wines.
There’s time to order a six pack yourself and you can follow in our tasting steps during this year’s Tour.