Wine and cheese pairings are great for holiday entertaining and when you want to enjoy by yourself. Today I have two VQA wines, one from BC, and one from Ontario, that I am pairing with a limited edition collectable box containing 3 artisinal “Entertaining Cheeses” provided to me by Saputo. The two wines are the Gold Hill Winery Syrah 2016 from the South Okanagan and the Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling, Wood Post Vineyard, 2015 from the Beamsville Bench in Ontario.
Some Background on the Cheeses
The three cheeses are from the brands Cathedral City and Alexis de Portneuf via Saputo. From Alexis de Portneuf there is a Cantonnier, a firm pressed cheese uncooked and surface ripened with a washed rind, and their Cendré de Lune, a soft surface-ripened cheese with a velvety surface covered with vegetable ash. From Cathedral City there is their Mature Cheddar. When you purchase this box of cheeses it comes with a pamphlet that describes the cheeses. The Cantonnier is a new cheese to me. In the pamphlet it notes that this cheese has a fruity cream and fresh apple flavour. And that the butter cultures used give it a distinctive buttery and nutty taste. They describe the Cendré de Lune as a triple cream Brie that releases fresh mushroom aromas ending with buttery flavours. It matures slowly from the outside inwards to develop a creamy texture. It is delicately acidic when young, but through ripening it develops hot milk and creamy aromas. Lastly the Cathedral City Cheddar comes from a creamery in Cornwall, the southernmost region of England where their cows can graze in their pastures for much of the year. They describe this cheese as classic and comforting.
If you are not confident in your wine and cheese and food pairing, they do supply pairing suggestions in the pamphlet. And as well, I am providing you my suggestions as to which cheeses pair the best with the two wines I am tasting.
I do have another three wines, one white and two red, to taste and pair with these three cheeses. My initial notes will be posted on Instagram as I taste them together, then there will be a separate article written on mywinepal.com covering details of the pairings.
Thank you to Saputo for providing me with this box of cheeses at no charge to review.
My Wine Tasting Notes
Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling, Wood Post Vineyard, 2015 (the 2018 vintage is available in ON $29.95++) – This wine has a bright clear medium intensity lemon colour. A medium plus intensity nose with developing aromas of petrol, ripe lemon/citrus, lanolin, a touch of lime and a hint of green apples. With decanting you also get some aroma of oranges. This wine is off-dry, with medium plus acidity and body, and pronounced flavours. Strong petrol and lemon, with a hint of lime and some minerality. It’s round, has a light mouthfeel and an acidic prickle that continues to the finish. It has a medium plus length finishing with petrol, citrus, peach and a touch of lime. With decanting, the peach flavour that was only on the finish is now present throughout the sip. If you can’t finish this wine in one sitting, that is not a problem. It tastes great the next day.
I did taste this wine 3 years ago when I visited the winery and provided my tasting notes for it, which you can read here, and then compare to how this wine has aged.
Rating: – A Riesling showing some aged character. You get petrol, lemon, lime and green apple aromas. A medium plus body, off-dry, with petrol, lemon and lime flavour, and an acidic prickle on your tough throughout the sip.
Gold Hill Syrah 2016 (BC $34.99) – A very deep, solid garnet at the core and 98% opaque at the rim. It has a medium plus intensity nose with a mix of aromas; ganja + tea leaves, red fruits, cloves, plums, red cherries and sweet spices. You get more dark fruit aromas with swirling after the initial pour. With a longer decant the black fruit aromas become much stronger and the red cherry aroma fades. This wine is off-dry with lower acidity. Medium fine textured tannins. Medium plus flavour intensity, is semi-round, and gets lighter mid palate. Black cherries, cloves, dark fruit, tobacco, raspberries and oak. There is some bitter flavour which I think comes from the oak and cloves. It does lighten a bit with swirling. With decanting, the next day the wine is much less bitter, has more black fruit flavours, and has a smoother and rounder mouthfeel. It finishes with tarriness + dark chocolate bitterness, cocoa, vanilla, ripe black fruit, oak, cloves, and black pepper. The tannins on the finish are fine grained and light intensity. Again with decanting the bitterness is much less and you get a nicer finish, with the black fruit, cocoa and black pepper. Decanting is recommended.
Rating: – An intense Syrah with a mix of ganja, tea leaves, red fruits and cloves on the nose to start and adds black fruits with air. Strong dark fruit flavours along with cloves, black cherries, and light oak. This wine has some bitter flavours upon first opening but giving it a good decant reduces these and brings out more black fruit aromas and flavours.
Thirty Bench Wine Makers website.
Gold Hill Winery website.
My Cheese Tasting Notes
Before tasting these cheeses, I placed the slices on a plate and left them out to warm up for 30 minutes. You cannot get the full flavour, aroma, and texture of cheese if you taste it cold. You can leave the cheeses to warm up longer, but I would suggest covering the cheeses with some plastic wrap so that they do not start drying out.
Cantonnier – This cheese has a light mushroom and buttery aroma. You may say that it also has a buttered popcorn aroma. It is firm, with a creamy texture. Mild yeasty flavour with a buttery finish. It has a firm edible rind. An interesting cheese that is OK on it’s own, but I think will be much better paired with a wine.
Cendré de Lune – This cheese has a nice buttery, creamy interior with some air pockets. It is firmer toward the edge. It has a light coating of ash on the rind. Creamy, buttery flavour with a bit of edge from the ash. Very mild flavour. A lovely texture. This is an excellent cheese to enjoy on its own. The creaminess and mellowness of this cheese lets you enjoy this cheese on its own.
Mature Cheddar – Light yellow butter colour. It has a very light, mild nose. Dry with medium sharpness that gets creamy in your mouth. There is a touch of saltiness and butteriness, with some nuttiness toward the end. I really enjoyed this cheese on it’s own. I enjoy the combination of the creaminess and light sharpness of this cheese.
My Pairing Notes
Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling
The Riesling brought out some earthiness in the Cantonnier but the off-dry component of the wine does not enhance the combination of flavours and aromas of both. The Cendré de Lune worked quite well with the Riesling. The acidity in the wine lightens up the butteriness of the cheese and makes it taste more lively. The lemon and lime flavours of the wine pair nicely with the buttery flavour from this cheese. Lastly the Mature Cheddar was an excellent pairing with the Riesling. The acidity in the wine was reduced by the cheddar. The petrol flavour from the wine and the butteriness from the cheese worked well together. The wine also brought out the texture and saltiness in the cheese.
The Mature Cheddar and the Cendré de Lune were both very close in pairing quality. I enjoyed both. The Cantonnier did not enhance or create a complementary pairing with this wine, but I still have three more wines to try with this cheese.
Gold Hill Syrah
The pairing of the Cantonnier cheese and the Syrah was not successful as the creaminess of the Cantonnier cheese was reduced by the Syrah and the flavour of the wine overpowered the flavour of the cheese. The Cendré de Lune pairing with the Syrah was very good. The cheese kept its creaminess and you add the fruit flavours from the wine, plus the bitterness from the Syrah was reduced. In addition the Mature Cheddar was also a very good pairing. You still get the nice texture and sharpness from the cheddar and fruit from the Syrah, plus again a reduction in the bitterness from the Syrah.
Again the Mature Cheddar and the Cendré de Lune worked very well together paired with the Syrah. As mentioned the Cantonnier did not make a good complementary pairing, but I still have three more wines to try with this cheese.
Where Can I Buy These Wines and Cheeses?
If this cheese collection is interesting to you, you can purchase it via https://www.saputo.ca/en/cheese-collection-boxes. A nice Holiday gift.
The Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling is now up to the 2018 vintage, but I would think that the aromas and flavours will be very similar to the 2015. You can buy this wine online on their website. The Gold Hill Winery Syrah is available to order through their website.