We decided to hit the pause button on our regular format for the November tasting, and instead challenged Ali & Andy to a cheese pairing. Each couple would bring a cheese, and each couple would find a bottle of wine to pair with each cheese, for a total of four wines. Luckily, they were more than excited for the contest.
The first cheese was the delicious Fog Lights by Cypress Grove, a goat milk from Humbolt County, California. Ali & Andy selected a sparking Vouvray to go with it (made from Chenin Blanc), while we picked a Graves Blanc (60% Sémillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Muscadelle).
Next up was an intense alpine cheese, Le Chalotet from Fribourg, Switzerland, which Ali & Andy paired with a red Bugey (this one made from Pinot Noir), and we opted for Ridge's Geyserville bottling (dominated by Zinfandel, plus Carignane and others).
Other than the Swiss cheese, Ali & Andy also provided an outstanding array from Formaggio, including jámon Iberico de bellota and a rabbit pâté.
Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Pétillant Brut Non-Vintage. Not super-bubbly, with a clean-smelling nose of popcorn kernels, chalk, honey, white flowers, corn starch, hay, orange marmalade, straw, toast, and fresh corn. Not a lot of fruit. Plenty of acidity on the palate, with flavors of stone fruit, like under-ripe nectarine, plus green pear and tangerine. The cheese really blossomed with this one, with the texture of the bubbles providing an outstanding contrast to the richness of the goat milk. Everyone except Kristin thought that this was a better match. Ali & Andy's bottle. About $25.
Château Graville-Lacoste 2021 (Graves). Grassy, summery nose, with notions of honeydew melon, rosemary, chives, green mango, strawberry kiwi Snapple, and bell peppers. Ali stated, "I'm getting urine in a good way . . . what is that?" Lively and fun in the mouth, but also a little oily, like an herbal olive oil, plus citrus rind and olive brine. Ali loved it. This worked well with the cheese, but did not make new things happen like the Vouvray. David & Kristin's bottle. About $23.
Famille Peillot Bugey Pinot Noir 2022. A hint of rubber tire, but otherwise scents of cherries, blueberries, cranberries, burnt wood, coffee cherries, boysenberry jam, crispy bacon, and freshly brewed coffee. Pretty. Ali described it as "a morning wine." Initially tight, but opens up with air. Starts off bright and moves darker along the palate, with good acidity. Flavors of cherries, leather, ash, clove cigarette, plum skin, and a hint of green tobacco. Licorice and vanilla on the finish. Works with the cheese, especially the floral component and the acidity, helping to cleanse the palate. Ali & Andy's bottle. About $26.
Ridge Geyserville 2018 (Alexander Valley). Made from 68% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah, and 2% Alicante Bouschet. Andy proclaimed, "This is what I want to smell when I smell wine", and "it just smells like California to me." Beautiful, wild berry scents, plus ripe cherries, plums, vanilla, black pepper, and mocha. Exuberant without being over the top or too high in alcohol. Andy detected an "earth and boot" aroma. Delicious, with brambly wild berry flavors, plus a brown sugar or molasses note. Seamless. Ali described it as "welcoming and warm, but not too hot", and with the cheese, it "takes you down an alpine slope of jam." Andy noted that it "feels like I'm eating chocolate and salt", while David felt that it was "more fruity with the cheese than on its own." Everyone agreed that this was the better match. David & Kristin's bottle. About $48.