In my attempt to get as much work done for the shop as I possibly can before hopping a plane on the 20th I've fallen a bit short on time, and seeing as I have a house guest over the next two nights I doubt I'll have much more to bust anything out for this here blog....although I might try. So I am kind of cheating again here by posting one of my Cheese & Wine features that I do for The Wine Country website. I had been running them weekly but confess to feeling like I was taking the easy way out, and maybe watering down the...punch of some of my other posts but, well like I said, short on time and I've actually had a couple people ask about these pairing posts. Don't think I will be posting them weekly here, may just store a couple up for times like this, or if I'm choking during newsletter deadline....so when I'm desperate, but for those of you that are truly into these they are posted weekly on our store website and you can find them at http://www.thewinecountry.com/
See what I did there?! A freebee post and a store plug! At the very least this might be a bit "lighter" than my last post, sure as hell shorter.
2010 Roland Schmitt Pinot Gris $19.99
We’ve had an on again off again relationship with the wines from Alsace here at The Wine Country over the years. We were all huge fans of the classic food friendly wines from the region, in fact I fell in love with wine because of those wines but, after one estate received some press for their heavy, sweet and uber-rich style wines the rest of Alsace had a momentary loss of sanity. So many producers jumped on the “style” train and began making these thick, rich, gooey wines that lacked any real acidity and were nowhere near food friendly. In fact, (and yes this is a tad ironic) the only foods Randy and I could think of to pair them with were big, rich and gooey cheeses. Too many of the wines were like cartoon renditions of themselves and to top it all off, they were falling apart after only a couple years in the cellar. We ended up simply shrinking the department and waiting out the storm.
The good news is there seems to have been a collective, “What were we thinking?!” and now the wines are back to being more restrained, focused, refined and back to being geared for food. It has been thrilling for us to rediscover all the glorious things we fell in love with Alsace for and what all the best French bistros have known for years, Alsace makes some of the most versatile and food compatible wines on the planet. The wines from Roland Schmitt have been gracing our shelves for quite a few years now, and with each vintage the wines just get better. Pinot Gris can be tricky, getting that precise balance of ripe tropical fruit without heading into over-ripeness, but this brilliant 2010 from Schmitt is nearly perfect. A beautifully dry expression of Pinot Gris with layers of citrus and mango tinged with a nutty, almost almond like flavor and finish is a mouthful of freshness.
Patacabra Spanish Goat’s Milk
This washed rind semi-soft Spanish cheese is on the assertive side of goat’s milk cheeses. Not that light, not sure what kind of milk it is kind, one bite and you know you are most assuredly eating a goat’s milk cheese. Smooth, creamy, stark white interior with an eatable earthy rind. The aroma reminds me of sweet warm cream and fresh cut grass along with the tell-tale goaty tang. In the mouth you are first struck by the luscious creaminess but then this tangy lemon rind zingy flavor emerges and the finish is beautifully salty which actually makes the cheese appear almost refreshing in a way. One of those cheese you pull out and think, “I’ll just have a slice or two” and before you know it, half the piece is gone!
My instinct on this pairing was to pick a wine that would play off the grassy notes in the cheese, something from the Loire, either Sancerre or Menetou-Salon but the more I fell in love with the texture, that creaminess of the cheese I wanted a wine that would enhance that rather than highlight the tang. The Roland Schmitt, with all of its lovely tropical fruit, takes the aggressive cheese in hand and the saltiness in the cheese simply makes the fruit in the wine explode. A light and elegant pairing that would be a fantastic start to any meal, is perfect for porch or backyard picking and when served to guests can solidify your, "That cat knows their shit" status.