Cheese and Loire Wine Pairing with Les Vignerons du Vendômois #winophiles

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.

A smear of Gorgonzola dolce is heaven if you are a blue cheese lover. Thankfully the French also make blue cheese from goat milk!

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.

Pineau d'Aunis wine grape Loire valley Touraine

Pineau d’Aunis grapes- you can see how tightly packed the custers are on the vine!

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

le cocagne loire valley cave du vendômois rosé les vigneronsThis 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

Cheese stores in France are everywhere. I popped into Robert’s specialty store here in Bordeaux to peruse Romain’s cheese selection, specifically goat. Romain’s great-grandfather Robert was a well-know fromager just outside of Paris. Cheese has been the family business since his grandfather opened his first shop in the early 1900s.

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.

Lot et Garonne Goutte fromage chevre goat cheeseBuchette Cendree – Log shaped and brushed with ash, a raw milk cheese with a soft texture and slight hazelnut taste that gets stronger over time. You can eat it fresh or matured.

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:

A special thank you to Vinconnection and Cave Cooperative du Vendômois!

Where to Find the Wine:

USA Idéal Wines (MA)

Ahd Vintners (MI)

Information about goat cheese is here.

*Disclosure: I received sample wines for this article and generating social media sharing. My opinions are my own.

32 thoughts on “Cheese and Loire Wine Pairing with Les Vignerons du Vendômois #winophiles

  1. b kay ferrier

    those grapes are SO PRETTY. I love the color et al. and cheese that tastes like hazelnut- YUM

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      Aren’t they beauties Kay?!? We’ll have to indulge in cheese (reminiscent of hazelnut) and wine next time I visit.

      Reply
  2. Robin Bell Renken

    Your photos have me drooling. What a spectacular cheese selection!
    I love that these organizations have rallied behind Pineau d’Aunis! It was wonderful to try this rosé! And how wonderful to sit and pair with the cheesemonger!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      So glad you got to try the wines Robin. Yes, Romain at Robert’s has an unbelievable selection of cheese, you wouldn’t believe the aromas when you walk into the store!

      Reply
  3. Allison Wallace

    I had never heard of Pineau d’Aunis before — fascinating and so glad the managed to save it. Now we must find some (and pair it with cheese of course ;).

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      Glad to introduce you to a new grape! I only had it once, maybe twice before. The good thing is this wine is available in the US so hopefully when you stroll over the border you’ll be able to find it!

      Reply
  4. Penny Sadler

    Like you, I can not indulge in too much dairy. However, goat seems to be an exception. Thanks for explaining the many different types of goat cheeses. I also did some research on goat cheeses and learned a lot! Sante!

    Reply
  5. Pinny Tam

    I found the moldy cheeses very appealing! The Le Cocagne Gris 2018 does an exceptional job in pairing well with all 7 cheeses I choose. The Pomerol is a bit tougher, but still yields pleasant matches. Thanks for coordinating the samples!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      You are most welcome Pinny! I find reds harder to pair with cheese in general, perhaps because that pairing doesn’t speak to me. But as you said in your article, stinky and tangy cheese, yes!

      Reply
  6. Deanna

    I’m with you and eat cheese like Michelin starred restaurants! How interesting too when it’s all around you in France, and what an amazing selection of cheese. I don’t think I’ve seen those varietals in the US, so It’s nice to see there are still cheeses I’ve yet to try!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      I’m continually blown away by all the cheese… and the boulangerie and patisserie shops! The later are more difficult for me to stay away from 😉

      Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      Delightful yes, I left a few pounds heavier. There’s a goat cheese in every style for every wine!

      Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      Certainly fun to learn of new grapes. It’s not every day you hear about Pineau d’Aunis, that is for sure… thanks Cathie!

      Reply
  7. Linda

    So great to have a cheesemonger to consult! I’m inspired now to get to know the cheese sellers at my local farmers market and sample more cheese.

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      Thanks for stopping by Linda, I highly encourage you to go for it with your market cheese heads!

      Reply
  8. David

    Interesting to hear about the effort to preserve the Pinot d’Aunis grape. You really have an advantage finding good French cheese being based in Bordeaux! Fun to do the tasting right in the cheese shop.

    Reply
  9. Payal

    Popping in to the fromagerie in Bordeaux to pick up a spot of cheese? NBD! Why would I envy that?! The photos look amazing, and love the goat cheese + wine pairing… couldn’t agree more with you! I’m already looking forward to your post next month 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      Awe, thanks Payal! I am lucky and thankful for opportunities here, especially those revolving around food and wine.

      Reply
  10. Gwendolyn Alley

    I love that you took the wine to the cheesemonger! These cheeses sound amazing — I love goat cheese too (and it loves me! I am careful about how much dairy I consume…) When I visited France last summer, I was amazed by the selection of cheese and pate in the grocery store, and I didn’t even get into a specialty shop!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      Another fromage du chèvre lover! I’m careful too because living in France, it’s very easy to eat it every day. Next time you make it here you’ll definitely have to make it to a specialty store or better yet one of the farmer markets in so many cities now.

      Reply

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