For me, cheese is like caviar or a Michelin starred restaurant- I partake on special occasions only. It’s not that I don’t like it, quite the contrary. There’s nothing like slathering young and creamy Gorgonzola on a cracker. Or a crostini topped with aged Mimolette or Manchego, a walnut then drizzled with honey. But sadly, cheese doesn’t like me. I do, however, partake in occasional cheese of the goat milk variety, sometimes referred to as chèvre. It’s particularly nice with certain wine.
This month the French #Winophiles virtual tasting group celebrates French cheese and wine. To learn more about the month’s theme and the group, check out the invite article from our host Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.
Finding the Perfect Bottle of Wine For Your Choice of Fromage
When indulging why not find a wine that makes the taste experience pop! It was an easy choice this month because the group of Loire Valley producers called Les Vignerons du Vendômois, via their winery, Cave Coopérative du Vendômois, shared a *sample bottle: Le Cocagne Gris made from the rare grape, Pineau d’Aunis.
An Ancient Grape
Pineau d’Aunis is old with mentions of the name as early as 1183. According to Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, the first reliable mention was in 1816 in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley.
It found a home in the most northerly part of this region, an area called Coteaux du Vendôme. Access a Loire Valley map by clicking here to put this into perspective! Note the Loire is divided into four sub-regions from west to east: Nantes, Anjour-Saumur, Touraine and Central Loire.
As far as characteristics, Pineau d’Aunis’ berry clusters are tight making it susceptible to botrytis (noble rot). If yields are not controlled quality falls. What it does do is produce lively and peppery-spiced wines often used in rosé and sparkling wine production. And it’s not shy producing mildly tannic, distinctive reds too.
Save This Grape!
Because this grape was in decline, Les Vignerons du Vendômois along with four other organizations developed a Pineau d’Aunis conservatory, grafting and planting the grape for preservation. It’s thriving there today but remains small in quantity. The conservatory continues to study it, looking at disease resistance, vigor, yield, sensory characteristics, typical characteristics of the wines it produces, and soils and climates for which it is best suited.
The Wine: Le Cocagne Gris 2018
This is a 100% Pineau d’Aunis rosé from the Cave Coopérative du Vendômois.
After the grapes are picked, they’re pressed followed by a 24-hour static clarification. Fermentation is temperature controlled- 14°C (57°F)- in stainless vats followed by two months aging on lies before bottling. 14% abv, about $12.
In the glass it shows medium salmon hues with coppery overtones that shine brilliantly. The wine opens with wild raspberry, strawberry, white floral and white pepper spun through with rose hips, dried herbs and tumeric. Nicely balanced structure and ample length, the light tannins have a savory and drying quality.
The Cheese: L’Heritage de Robert, Affineur Fromager
I chose four types of goat cheese and Romain threw in a Rocamadour:
Goutte Fermière – This is a pyramid shaped raw milk, farmer style cheese from the Lot et Garonne Department in the Nouvelle-Acquitaine region of France outside of Bordeaux. A fresh tasting cheese with ever so slight barnyard nuances, tangy, a firmer core and just under the rind creamy goodness.
Selles sur Cher – A soft, creamy, ash-coated raw milk cheese that develops a nutty flavor as it ages. It is from the Loire Valley town of Selles cur Cher and is a protected designation of origin (AOP) cheese.
Bleue de Chevré – Yep! A blue goat cheese that is delicious for blue lovers. I knew this wouldn’t work, overpowering the wine but I couldn’t resist. Top left in the photo below. Romain threw in Rocamacour for fun!
I never object to the marriage of goat cheese and wine. Any type eaten solo will satiate a cheese craving but when paired with a complementary wine, the experience is elevated. And here the first three did just that.
The funny thing about this tasting is I never got home with the bottle of wine and cheese but instead sipped and tasted with Romain at the cheese shop. In the end the milder Goutte Fermière and Buchette Cendree were delightful with Le Cocagne Gris. Both have a soft rind with a creamy, salty and tangy interior and the Buchette was a bit nuttier in flavor. The fruity and peppery notes of the wine complimented the fresh, tangy, and mildly creamy notes of the cheese, melding them seamlessly. This wine definitely works with these types of goat cheese and they’re fairly easy to find too!
The French #Winophiles is a virtual tasting group composed of food and wine writers and influencers that explores French food & wine pairings on the third Saturday of every month. Join us Saturday, 15 June 2019 at 11 am EDT, 17:00 in France on Twitter: #winophiles or follow my Twitter feed @savortheharvest.
French wine and cheese we have for you this month:
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla offers up “Pretty in Pink: Raclette de Savoie Polenta, Salmon, & Le Cocagne Gris Rosé”
- Here at Savor the Harvest brings I tell you about Cheese and Loire Wine Pairing with Les Vignerons du Vendômois.
- Pinny over at Chinese Food And Wine Pairings bids Je t’aime to a Bordeaux, a Loire Valley Rosé and an assortment of French Cheese.
- Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles gives us A Loire Rosé, a Bordeaux from Pommerol and…..Cheese.
- Wendy of A Day In The Life On A Farm shares Life’s Simple Pleasures; Onion Cheese Soup and a Glass of Rosé.
- Jane of Always Ravenous shares Summer Inspired French Cheese and Wine Pairings.
- David of Cooking Chat offer tips for Picking Cheese to Serve with French Wine.
- Jeff of FoodWineClick! says Do as the French: Serve The Cheese After the Meal.
- Liz of What’s In That Bottle? – Smile and C’est Fromage.
- Susannah of Avvinare brings us Vin Jaune and Comte-A Perfect Combination.
- Cathie of Side Hustle Wino presents Wine and Cheese, the Heart and Soul of France.
- Gwendolyn, the Wine Predator, asks Did Someone Say French Wine and Gourmet Grilled Cheese?
- Penny of Adventures of a Carry-on pairs Alsace Riesling and Goat Cheese, A Match Made in Heaven.
- Linda of My Full Wine Glass suggests we Try White Bordeaux and Goat Cheese Appetizer When Relaxing Outdoors.
- Deanna of Asian Test Kitchen delivers 3 Must Try French Cheese & Alcohol Pairings.
- Cindy of Grape Experiences serves up Wines from Alsace and Cheeses for Pairing.
- Payal of Keep the Peas shares French #Wine(ophiles) and Cheese.
- Host Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog is pairing French Grilled Cheese and Drappier Rose de Saignee Champagne.
A special thank you to Vinconnection and Cave Cooperative du Vendômois!
Where to Find the Wine:
Information about goat cheese is here.
*Disclosure: I received sample wines for this article and generating social media sharing. My opinions are my own.