Accrington Observer - - LEISURE - ANDY CRONSHAW

‘You don’t need a slice of Vacherin Mont D’Or or any other cheese for this wine but it helps’

THERE’S some­thing about the on­set of colder weather that brings out the cheese lover in me.

I’m very for­tu­nate in­deed to live near to what must be one of the best cheese shops in the coun­try - the Cheese Ham­let in Didsbury.

Au­tumn brings into stock sea­sonal cheeses such as Vacherin Mont D’Or; one of my very top favourites.

I’ll leave a plump slice of it on the cheese board while din­ner is eaten.

As it starts reach­ing room tem­per­a­ture it be­comes ever more flabby but ever more de­li­cious.

It never lasts much longer than that.

And it just so hap­pens that a wine-maker who I omit­ted from my list of picks from the re­cent Hang­ing Ditch tast­ing at Manch­ester Cathe­dral has pro­duced a great wine to match with soft, slightly funky cheeses like Vacherin or Brie.

Katie Jones, orig­i­nally from Le­ices­ter­shire and now in the Langue­doc, also makes a won­der­ful Fi­tou and great Grenache which goes down a bomb with win­ter casseroles.

An­other cheese I love is Stil­ton which is ex­cel­lent from the Cheese Ham­let (they only stock one pro­ducer) and Burt’s Blue which is made in Cheshire. Both are the per­fect match for sweet botry­tised wines like Sauternes.

Although the low yields and meth­ods used to make such wines make them nec­es­sar­ily ex­pen­sive, there’s a slightly cheaper al­ter­na­tive to Château Dauphiné Rondil­lon Lou­piac Sauternes I dis­cov­ered re­cently that is the real deal. Katie Jones Mus­cat 2016 (Naked Wines £15.99) You don’t need a slice of Vacherin Mont D’Or or any other cheese for this wine but it helps. It’s not an en­tirely sweet wine but is what the French term Moelleux (lit­er­ally ‘soft’) which in wine terms can de­scribes a wine that is slightly sweet but more im­por­tantly one that is mel­low to the taste­buds. And this wine cer­tainly is with aro­mas of hon­ey­suckle, el­der­flower and peach. The palate is sim­ply de­li­cious, slightly sweet but very re­fresh­ing and bril­liant with some cheeses and or fruit. Katie Jones Rouge Grenache Noir 2014 (£13.50 Hang­ing Ditch)

It al­most goes without say­ing that a bot­tle bear­ing Katie’s name will be a win­ner.

Grenache can be­come a lit­tle overly ripe in ex­pres­sion but this is bright with lively red fruits on the nose and a silky, supple palate.

It’s made from old vines in Maury in the Rous­sil­lon. Château Dauphiné Rondil­lon 2008, Lou­piac (£19 Vine­trail) Lou­piac sits on the right bank of the Garonne river be­tween Cadil­lac and Ste-Croix-du-Mont.

The vine­yards have the per­fect con­di­tions for no­ble rot: a fun­gal con­tam­i­na­tion of the grapes that in other cir­cum­stances is sim­ply un­de­sir­able rot.

In­evitably it re­sults in very low yields of juice from the fruit and the prac­tice re­lies on the higher prices the wines can com­mand; without which it just isn’t worth­while eco­nom­i­cally speak­ing.

A few years of bot­tle age­ing has re­sulted in a wine of some im­pact on the taste­buds. Its very vivid and vi­brant aro­mas of apri­cot and honeycomb give way to a lovely tangy palate with flavours of baked apri­cot and can­died fruits.

Re­fresh­ing acid­ity al­low it to cut beau­ti­fully across the chalky, creamy body of Stil­ton or Burt’s Blue.

Although it’s push­ing £20, it comes in a full-size bot­tle and, once opened, should last a cou­ple of weeks in the fridge over the fes­tive pe­riod - if you can keep your hands off it for that long.

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