Tasting Notes: Wines to go with Great Cheeses, 24 May 2017, by Max Jewell, Priory Wines

Max, one of our members, and who runs Priory Wines in Lymington, chose a delightful flight of wines from his range, together with his pick of cheeses to partner these wines. The tasting was very informal and we were encouraged to experiment with a bit of guidance from Max, and a very enjoyable and sociable tasting this turned out to be. I’ve listed the wines and the cheeses, and some of the preferences, I’m sure you all had your own favourites………

MCC Fligree Blanc de Blancs, Banghoek, South Africa, NV (£16.95/£15.26) – an unusual South African methode traditionelle fizzy, the first vintage to be produced at Banghoek, Very light, some biscuit on the nose and fresh ripe apple hints on the palate, very quaffable and much liked on the night – suggested pairing with Brie or Delice de Bourgogne double cream soft cheeses.

Contesa Caperonne Pecorino d’Abruzzo 2016 (£9.99/£8.99) – lovely lively but nevertheless elegant wine from this fairly rare Italian grape, gentle citrus and touch of honeysuckle on the palate with a fine mineral finish and just a hint of the almond nut that is characteristic of other central Italian whites – very good value. Had to be tried with the cheese of the same name, apparently sheep (pecora in Italian) like the grape!

Waterkloof Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa , Vintage ?? (£11.25/£9.17)  – An unusually muted Sauvignon Blanc, much more the Pouilly Fume style with a steely mineral backbone and restrained fruit on the palate – diametrically opposed to the more common Kiwi take on SB. Long and elegant but, in my opinion, a little lacking in character.  Not so easy to match with the cheeses.

Bodega Naia Verdejo, Rueda, Spain, Vintage ??  (£12.50/£11.25) – this is the middle of a three-range Naia production in the growing viticultural area of Spain where irrigation is the key to good wines. Not to be confused with the Portugese Verdelho grape. Minerally, slightly dusty apple aromas and a palate with body and zesty acidity. Peach, green melon and white-pepper notes and a nice acidic flip on the finish. Big enough for Gruyere or maybe the Gorgonzola as well as the Manchego.

Sileni “The Plateau” Pinot Noir, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand , 2016 (£16.15/£14.54) – Arguably the best PN producers in the world outside of Burgundy, and very non-Burgundian in character. Lovely red berry and cherry-driven fruit on the nose and a delicious palate following this up,  with just enough tannin bit to keep things in balance. A really delicious and very good value wine that, for me at least, was a wonderful match with the saltiness and aromatics of the Roquefort.

Les Coteaux Schisteaux Cotes de Rhone Villages, Vintage ?? (£14.35/£12.92) – Unusually, 98% Grenache and 2% Syrah in this rich CDR, but not the fruit bomb that it might have been, the inherent sweetness of the Grenache held in check resulting in a good level of minerality and structure, very well-defined tannins on the palate. An excellent match for the harder cheeses, including the aged Gouda, cheddar and Gruyere.

Cline “Nancy’s Old Vine” Zinfandel , Contra Costa  County, California, 2015 (£17.70/£15.93)Ripe, wild berries with coffee and chocolate characters. Ripe vanilla laced fruit combined with soft tannins and a lovely balanced acidity. Very more-ish and surprisingly elegant given the 15% alcohol level which it managed without any “burn”, showing how well made this wine is. By USA standards, this is remarkably good value; excellent with the Gorgonzola, Roquefort and the aged Gouda, all big enough to stand up against the fruit.

Senorio de Sarria Moscatel, Navarra, Spain, NV (£12.99/£11.69) – A really nice light sweetie to finish with, with the typical Muscat grapey  and perfumed nose and delightful  fresh and pure honey and sweet fruit notes on the palate. This wine comes over as a very pure expression of the grape, not complex and with a feathery touch on the palate, not at all cloying as some of the less acidic non-botrytised wines tend to be – very enjoyable with many of the cheeses  on display, my favourite being the Gorgonzola.


The cheeses were either from The Cheese Stall (Winchester Market, CS) or Waitrose (W):

  • Delice de Bourgogne CS
  • Pecorino Sardo CS
  • Westcombe Cheddar CS
  • Tomme Georgelet Cendre CS
  • Ossau-Iraty W
  • Manchego Aged W
  • Gruyere CS
  • Munster CS
  • Vintage Gouda 3 Year CS
  • Roquefort Le Vieux Berger CS
  • Gorgonzola Piccante W