Wine and cheese. Not always a great match, but here’s a combination that worked well. Queijo de Serra da Estrela is a fantastic cheese from Portugal. It’s made in the Beiras region, on the border with the Dao wine region, from sheep’s milk. The sheep are farmed on the foothills of the Serra da Estrela (‘star mountain’), which is a beautiful area. The cheese itself varies from quite runny to semi-hard, depending on how old it is. You want to get it when it is of the consistency that you can scoop it out easily with a spoon.
The wine? It’s one of those natural wines that will divide people. Many will take a sniff and declare it oxidised. There are certainly some oxidative characters, but once you get past these, I reckon it is quite a serious Chenin. Layers of flavour and complexity develop. I wouldn’t foist this on everyone, but I reckon that open-minded tasters will recognize its qualities – it’s one of those wines that keeps changing in the glass, demonstrating new facets.
Benoit Courault Gilbourg Vin de Table de France NV
This may be vin de table, and thus bear no appellation or vintage, but it’s from the 2008 vintage, and is a Chenin Blanc from Anjou. It’s made from 60 year old vines. Intitially a little volatile on the nose, this opens out to reveal notes of nuts, spice, apple and pear. It’s nicely textured with distinctive minerality, as well as a hint of matchstick and a bit of grippiness. It’s long and complex, revealing extra dimensions in the glass. It would be easy to miss this wine if you just did a sniff and slurp, but it’s actually profound. 92/100 (UK agent Les Caves de Pyrene)
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