Wine and Cheese
A very interesting subject – “wine and cheese are first cousins; they are both fermented and the complexities are there”, said Giana Ferguson, Gubbeen Farmhouse Cheese, as Samuel and Colm, Sommeliers at Ballymaloe, took the opportunity to ask Giana’s advice during her visit to the Christmas Food and Craft Fair at Ballymaloe, this weekend.
Gubbeen (or Gubbeen Gubbeen as it is affectionally sometimes called, to differentiate it from the smoked Gubbeen, that Giana and her Family also make) is a washed rind cheese (some other well known examples of washed rind Irish Farmhouse Cheese are Ardrahan and Milleens).
The aromas and flavours that will develop are complex – “mushroom and nuts being the most distinct”, said Giana, and that quintessential West Cork subtle elusive, often misunderstood, aroma and flavour of ‘bog’! (think of those rolling moss-covered, ancient land & valley’s of West Cork) Forest floor was also mentioned – the well known descriptor in wine terms – ‘sous-bois’ as Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau said , highlighting again the similiarities of the language used when talking about the aroms and flavours of wine, and cheese. Now to what wine to have with Gubbeen!
We discussed several wines – older Pinot Noir, especially Burgundy of course, in the red line-up – and its equivalent White from the same region – the nuts and mushrooms aroma and flavour profile leading us to aged white Burgundy.
We matched the ‘Gubbeen Gubbeen’, with a wine from an equally iconic producer, Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 2000, Burgundy (see Anne-Claude’s visit to Ballymaloe here, June 2011) – sublime cheese and wine together.
Giana also had an ‘extra mature smoked Gubbeen’ at the Christmas Food & Craft Fair – and her preference wine-wise with this, she said, was Gewurztraminer – a fruity and rich style. Later on, we put this to the test at dinner- and it definitely worked. Matched with Meyer-Fonné Gewurztraminer Vielles Vignes Grand Cru Sporen 2008, Alsace – and by good sheer co-incidence, well known wine merchant, Pascal Rossignol, and his wife Geraldine, were also on hand (Pascal represents Meyer-Fonné in Ireland, and earlier this year, owners/winemakers, Mrs & Mrs Felix Meyer had visited Ballymaloe – see here).
A fantastic pairing said Hazel Allen, and Pascal and Giana likewise said exactly the same – a superb match – Giana gave us the lovely line ” in China they say, when one has this lovely feeling of having tasted and enjoyed something so good and so nice, it adds 45 seconds to one’s life” – now that’s a great reason to continue with this great pairing! (as if we needed one)
Samuel Chantoiseau, showing his French background, enquired what bread would work well – Giana likes Sourdough with the Smoked Gubbeen, and they also have special Gubbeen cheese biscuits produced by baker, Robert Ditty (with this traditional oat biscuit originating in Scotland when they did not have flour, but just oats)
We finished this ‘Cheese and Wine’ matching workshop (ok – work, but not as we know it!) with again, another great pairing – Crozier Blue (Sheep’s Milk Cheese from the Clifton-Brown farm, near Cashel, Co Tipperary, and produced by their cousins, The Grubb Family, Beechmount, Fethard – who make the world famous Cashel Blue cheese) matched with Meyer-Fonné Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Furstentum Vendange Tardive 2007, Alsace – the sweetness perfectly balancing the saltiness, and texture, of the Crozier Blue.
Our thanks to Giana and all at Gubbeen, Schull, Co. Cork and to Pascal and Geraldine Rossignol, Le Caveau, Kilkenny for a memorable evening – the best in cheese, wine and company!