‘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.