jamie goode's wine blog: Portuguese cheese with Alentejo wine

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Portuguese cheese with Alentejo wine

There's been an Alentejo theme to supper for the last two evenings. Tiago, the marketing dude for the Alentejo region, kindly gave me two cheeses at the trade fair, left over from the food and wine matching session. So I felt it was only right to accompany them with a serious Alentejo wine: Malhadinha 2006.

Now the Alentejo is a warm region in the south of Portugal, which as well as producing some of Portugal's best-loved wines (mainly, but not exclusively red), is also known for its cork, wheat, sheep and the famous black pigs.

These two cheeses are pungent and intense ewes' milk cheeses. The first is Serpa, which is a semi-soft cheese that's coagulated not with animal rennet, but with an extract from the flowers of a plant that's a relative of artichoke (cardoon thistle). It is deliciously rich and intense, but not totally crazy. You open up the cheese with a knife and then scoop it out with a spoon.

The second is queijo de Nisa, which is cured for longer, and is semi-hard. It comes in small wheels that are about 10 cm across: you cut them into slices and eat the lot, rind and all. It is intense, spicy and delicious.

The wine? I don't normally find red wine a great match for cheese, but this coped very well with the intense flavours.

Malhadinha Nova 'Malhadinha' 2006 Alentejo
A blend of Alicante, Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in new French oak. This has a fresh, aromatic spicy nose with pure blackberry and raspberry fruit. It's ripe (15% alcohol) but not lifeless and over-sweet. In fact, it's really well defined. The palate is fresh and complex with wonderful spicy notes and vibrant fruit, but this tends more to red than black fruit in character. It's carrying quite a bit of oak, but this integrates almost perfectly with the vivid, bright fruit. I reckon this could age really well. 93/100

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At 8:23 AM, Blogger murnol said...

Malhadinha wines are great. I have two bottles of this 2006 at home, looking forward to enjoying them...though I think I'll wait a while.

At 2:38 AM, Blogger Sydney Sider said...

Wow. I'm planning on going to the Hunter Valley (nr Sydney) for some cheese (and wine) tasting for the upcoming long weekend. Now I know that it's not impolite to ask for a spoon.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Josť Eduardo said...

Portugal, and mainly Alentejo is full of good and delicious surprises. Combining our wines and cheese can only give good results. About the spoon, here in Portugal we don't mind how you eat the cheese, but Sider should check if downunder they also accept it as we do.
Cheers from sunshine Portugal!


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