Cheese @ MiseMarch 24, 2009
I finally got a chance to run a tasting in the new Mise location (Corydon at Lilac). They’ve done a great job of fixing the place up and one of the bonuses is that they are running a store alongside the restaurant. A store that sells many varieties of great cheese. And they have a private room upstairs which is perfectly suited for wine tastings.
Cheese. Wine. I’m sure you see where this is headed. This post is a little longer than normal, but I really enjoyed this tasting and wanted to share my thoughts.
We held the tasting in the private room upstairs (great for small functions by the way). Chef Terry helped us pick out eight great cheeses and they were paired with eight wines. Some of the pairings were “classic” but others were a little edgier. Here are my thoughts.
1. Francis Ford Coppola ‘Sofia’ Blanc de Blancs (California) paired with the Delice de Bourgogne Triple Cream Brie (France).
The wine was OK. A little light and on the sweeter side (it’s a blend of Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc with some Muscat Blanc for fun). The cheese was unbelievable. I tried hard to restrain myself, but I overindulged on this one. The pairing was good, but I could have paired this cheese with Lucky Lager and still enjoyed it.
2. Marrenon Sauvignon Blanc (France) paired with Drunken Goat (Spain)
The wine was pretty good on its own. Nice herbal flavours and I found it a lot richer than the average French Sauv Blanc. And the cheese (a semi-soft Cheddar-like goat cheese) was pretty damn good too. But together they took on a whole new dimension of decadence. Goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc. Can’t go wrong with that.
3. Peninsula Ridge ‘Inox’ Chardonnay (Ontario) paired with a cave-aged Gruyere (Switzerland).
In this case, the wine dominated. I really like Peninsula Ridge and this is one of their best. Just pure Chardonnay goodness, thanks to the deft hand of their winemaker and a complete lack of oak ageing. It beat out the cheese in the individual competition (although the Gruyere was very nice) and together they made beautiful music. Another classic pairing.
4. Mazzei ‘Poggio alla Badiola’ (Tuscany) paired with Appenzeller (Switzerland).
I struggled with this pairing for quite some time. Appenzeller is a pretty overwhelming cheese and I got lots of conflicting advice on what would be best. After much deliberation (actually done at the last minute), my colleague and I decided that a sharp and tannic Super Tuscan would be the best route. That made the wine choice easy. For under $20, this blend of Sangiovese (90%) and Merlot (10%) is hard to beat. The cheese was good too, although it’s a bit overwhelming in a “what died in here” way when served in a small room. It’s a spicy beast of a cheese, but the Badiola held its own. Not the best pairing, but both the wine & cheese were soo good on their own that it didn’t matter as much.
5. Beaulieu Vineyards Coastal Estate Zinfandel (California) paired with applewood-smoked Cheddar (England)
One of the surprises of the night. We made this pairing by looking at the dominant flavour in the cheese, which was smoke. To me, smoke = BBQ and nothing beats a good Zinfandel with that. For $14, this is a very good Zinfandel, with tonnes of gorgeous soft fruit flavours. And the smoked Cheddar was nearly perfect too. Together they were even better.
6. i Capitani ‘Eme’ (Campania) paired with an aged Provolone.
Before I start this one, I have a confession to make. I’ve always viewed Provolone as the Italian equivalent of marble cheese. Simple, bland and best served in a sandwich with stronger flavours. But this aged version converted me. It literally tasted electric. And the wine was amazing. The Eme is a blend of Sangiovese, Aglianico and Piedirosso (a grape native to Southern Italy). It was rich and complex, with beautiful tannins and all sorts of great flavours. Again, an unusual pairing. But they were both delicious on their own and even better together.
7. Kurt Darting Riesling Spätlese (Germany) paired with Stilton.
This was a winner. We worked off the theory that rich, sweet dessert wines work really well with Stilton. Working down from there, we thought we’d see if a rich yet sharp German Spätlese might also work well. And it did. I’m not a Stilton fan but I love German Rieslings and this wine made the Stilton
8. Cline Late Harvest Mourvèdre paired with Buche Riblaire and Sambuca-poached figs
This dish was the only actual menu item we served during the whole evening. In all other cases, the cheese was served with baguettes and various types of fruit. But this dish consisted of a piece of goat cheese served with sambuca-poached figs. It’s a Mise staple and it is delicious. Normally I’d pair it with a Port, but we decided to push the limits again and go with this unusual late harvest Mourvèdre. It’s very Port-like, but has some neat coffee and spice flavours which paired perfectly with the Sambuca and figs. Dee-licious.
So there you have it. Eight cheeses. Eight wines and eighteen very full people. I may never be able to eat cheese again, but it was so worth it.
Looking back at the evening, my favourite wine was the i Capitani ‘Eme’, but the biggest surprise was the Beaulieu Coastal Zinfandel (a steal at $13.99). The best cheese was a toss-up between the triple cream Brie and the aged Provolone. And the best pairing was probably the Eme and the Provolone.
If you’re interested, all of the wines are available at the Kenaston Wine Market and all of the cheeses are available at the deli counter at Mise.