If you are young and romantic or old and nostalgic, a few simple meals – whether in front of a fire or picnicking in a summer meadow – are more fun with wine, cheese, and a loaf of bread.
I was reminded of this recently while enjoying some French fromage samples sent by Cheeses of Europe www.cheesesofeurope.com, Camembert, Fourme d’Ambert, Delice de Bourgogne, and Langres Chalancey, paired with French wines and some non-French sourdough. Who needs to cook?
Why French wines and cheese and not from somewhere else? There is no particular reason except the French has done both well and for so long. I say that even though my favorite pairing is an English cheese, Stilton, and Portuguese vintage Port.
However, if you haven’t experienced a lot of cheese and wine pairings, allow yourself to experiment before getting locked into favorites. For example, while most people drink red table wines with their cheese, I have been on wine trips to France with my colleague Ed McCarthy where he has insisted on a selection of fromage with every dinner and on drinking white wine with them. And whenever I bake a goat cheese soufflé, my wife is disappointed if Champagne or another sparkling wine isn’t poured. And if you want to get into vin et fromage, try matching French cheese with country wines from the same region.
While you’re shopping for cheese and artisan breads, here are a variety of French wines to drink with them, including a selection of Burgundies from Edouard Delaunay that range from $20 to the three figures.
2019 Edouard Delaunay “Septembre” Bourgogne Chardonnay ($20). Mild apple and quince flavors, with a little spiciness and whey in the finish – more mellow than intense.
2016 Chêne Bleu “Aliot” Blanc Vaucluse ($53). Very complex and mellow without being flabby. A Roussanne and Grenache Blanc blend with fruit oiliness, dried spices, hints of beeswax, and cow’s cheese, then it opens up to lovely pears and cooked apples – delicious.
2018 Edouard Delaunay “La Village” Chassagne-Montrachet ($114). A friend once said he enjoyed smelling a red Burgundy (or Bourgogne) as much as tasting it. The same holds true of the aromas with this white, although I’d want to get quickly to the rich, complex, and long flavors, pleasantly on the gamey side, with good tannins – just a lovely wine for now or later.
2018 Duca di Salaparuta “Lavico” Sicilia Nerello Mascalese ($19). The only non-French wine of The Dozen, it is a light pour, but one with entrancing cranberry flavors.
2019 Edoaurd Delaunay “Septembre” Bourgogne Pinot Noir ($20). A little gamey, with a good blend of fruit – lush cocktail cherries – and acidity with a nice oak treatment. If you like to drink older wines on the cheap – store away a case of this one.
2012 Château Lassègue Saint-Émilion Grand Cru ($50). Like several Bordeaux wineries, Lassègue does both late and later releases, so you can often find multiple vintages available. This one is perfect for a bloody steak – fresh but rounded flavors of cherries and cassis blended in with tastes of leather and aging barrels.
2014 Château Lassègue Saint-Émilion Grand Cru ($60). A mix of red and black fruits, dense in a good way, with savory brambles and a granular, lean finish.
2012 Chêne Bleu “Heloise” Vaucluse ($84). How lovely and complex can you go – blackberries, blueberries, peach peel, orange peel, leather, bitters meet up with tangy and savory acidity—a mouthful of words for a mouth-filling wine from dominant Syrah with Grenache.
2012 Chêne Bleu Abelard Ventoux ($85). Here Grenache is the major grape followed by Syrah, resulting in tangy, lightly spicy, super-ripe flavors of black raspberries and blackberries and playful tannins – a rollercoaster journey of flavors and sensations from lip to throat that is well worth the ride.
2018 Edouard Delaunay “La Village” Vielles Vignes Volnay ($89). Smooth and mellow, on the lighter side, but with firm tannins, velvety cherries, and a savory underlay.
2018 Edouard Delaunay “Les Fremiers” Pommard Ier Cru ($121). Delicious and well-balanced for aging, with ripe fruit and mild oak.
2018 Edouard Delaunay Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru ($350). Elegant, lean, minerally, and wrapped in fresh but not toasty oak – long on the palate with hints of baking spices.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com. As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.
Feature photo: Corton Charlemagne, Courtesy-BIVB-Michel-Joly.