Perfect Companions: French cheeses and Bordeaux wines

Looking for the perfect cheese and wine companions? Our global cheese buyer speaks French – cheese and wines, that is.

You may have noticed lately that we’re really excited about the 2009 Bordeaux vintage opens in a new tab that wine experts suggest is the best in more than 30 years. As you can guess, being the global cheese buyer, I can suggest the perfect cheese companions for these amazing wines: French cheeses opens in a new tab!Bordeaux wines are some of the finest and most desirable wines in the world and this special shipment of the 2009 vintage was selected and priced (under $20) to introduce these old-world wines to those who may previously have been intimidated by its bold history, reputation and price. Don’t miss this opportunity to try these limited-time-only wines, featured through April while supplies last. To help you enjoy these wines to the fullest, here are some of my favorite traditionally produced French cheeses that make perfect companions to these outstanding wines.One of the most versatile among our selection of these special Bordeaux wines is the Château Magence Graves Blanc. This crisp white wine has lively floral and citrus notes and balances round notes of Meyer lemon and sweet peas with the acidity of key limes. I recommend trying any of these four artisan cheeses with this wine and enjoy the variety of flavors you experience.

With an exterior resembling birch bark, Bucherondin derives its name from the French word bucheron, or “woodcutter.” A soft, goat’s milk cheese, its texture is both dense and creamy. Producer Sevre & Belleis a moderately sized cooperative (owned by the farmers), known for its high standards, such as hand-ladling cheese, an extremely rare practice these days.Uniquely flavored, creamy and well-balanced, Florette is a goat’s milk Brie with a telltale, hexagonal shape that is produced by Guilloteau, the French specialist in ultra-filtrated, soft-ripened cheese.Another great pairing for the Château Magence Graves Blanc is Ossau Iraty, a sheep’s milk cheese with a sweet, nutty denseness. This delightful cheese is complex, buttery and unmistakable, transforming from supple and creamy in its youth to a matured firmness as it ripens. Producer Agourkeeps old traditions alive with its small, family-owned company and regional specialty cheeses from the Pyrenees.Another delicious choice for the crisp white wine is P’tit Basque, a mild and creamy sheep’s milk cheese with seductive, sweet overtones. From the Basque region in the French Pyrenees, P’tit Basque is a popular original produced by family-run Lactalisin Laval, Mayenne, the dairy region of western France.Moving to a red wine, the Château Le Touzinard Bordeaux Rouge has a ripeness of tart cherries and cranberries with a touch of black olive, menthol and oak offer a striking nose and clean flavor. I love to match this wine with AOC Comté, aged 15 months, which has a smooth, firm texture and buttery, gently sweet nuttiness. This cheese is one of France’s first AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) cheeses, made from the milk of cows in the rich pastures of the Jura Mountains, and aged to the highest standards in eastern France.

Another prized red, the Château La Gravière Bordeaux Rouge, is earthy, structured and has hints of white and black pepper in the nose and a gripping minerality. This is a beautiful companion to the AOC Blue D’Auvergne. This cow’s milk blue cheese has a sharp nose and irresistible creaminess. It was first created by a farmer who introduced a rye bread mold to his cheese, and is produced by Livradois, the only family-owned cheesemaking business remaining in the Auvergne area.Another blue cheese produced by Livradois, Fourme d’Ambert “Or des Dômes”, is a great choice to pair with the Château Moulin de Mallet Bordeaux Rouge. This red wine has a dark rich claret color and a bouquet of red fruits with surprising hints of vanilla, licorice and blackberries. Rich and round with a lingering finish, this wine captures the best of the distinct, unpasteurized cow’s milk blue cheese. One of the country’s oldest cheeses, the Fourme d’Ambert has a narrow cylindrical shape and dry, yellow rind that captures the creamy, moist hints of blue mold and aged flavor.I hope you’ll try some of these outstanding French cheeses opens in a new tab and let me know which pairings you like.Bon appétit!

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