BEYOND STILTON AND PORT
Five new-wave British blues (with alternative drink matches)
BEAUVALE AND ENGLISH SPARKLING WINE
Beauvale ( below) has a luscious, silky texture and milky flavour that coats the tongue. A crisp sparkling wine cuts through the cream and refreshes the palate, says cheesemaker Robin Skailes. He recommends a flute of Chapel Down Brut, which has bready aromas and a quince finish. £20/kg, Waitrose
DRUNKEN BURT AND CIDER
Drunken Burt ( above) is tumbled in Gwatkins Golden Valley cider as it matures to give the rind a tangy flavour (instead of being pierced to develop blue veins). A medium sweet cider is the best match, complementing the rind and bringing sweetness to the saltiness of the cheese. Or try Orchard Pig Charmer. £4.95/180g, thecheesehamlet.co.uk
HARBOURNE BLUE AND SLOE GIN
Made by Devon-based Ticklemore Dairy, Harbourne Blue is one of
LANARK BLUE AND PEDRO XIMÉNEZ SHERRY
Scotland’s answer to Roquefort, Errington’s Lanark Blue is a fiery sheep’s milk cheese (once described as a “kilt-lifter”) that bucks the trend for sweet creamy blues. It’s spicy, salty flavour is tempered by the rich Christmas cake notes of Pedro Ximénez sherry. Very Rare PX Sherry from M&S is a winner. £34.32/kg, georgemewescheese.co.uk
CORNISH BLUE AND STOUT
Cornish Blue ( above) was named the best cheese on the planet at the 2010 World Cheese Awards thanks to its sweet, hazelnut flavour. It’s a cheese crying out for something dark and seductive. Step forward Bristol Beer Factory’s Milk Stout, which has a rich, chocolatey body that cuddles up to the cheese. £16-18/kg, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose year for customers such as Booths and The Wine Society, so has worked to differentiate itself by pushing the boundaries of blue cheese even further. As well as its signature Burt’s Blue, it also makes Drunken Burt, which is washed in cider, and DiVine, which is wrapped in vine leaves.
“The benefit of these softer blues is they are ready at about six weeks [compared with 12 weeks for Stilton],” she says. “That’s a lot less money tied up in the maturing room, which is good for cash-flow.”
Back at Cropwell Bishop, Skailes is quick to reassure concerned Stilton lovers that Britain’s most famous blue can hold its own against the new pretenders.
“We’re seeing exports growing to the US and Australia, where Stilton is seen as a really good-quality British product,” he says. “It’s also still a mainstay on every cheese counter in Britain. These new blues complement Stilton. They get people talking about British blue cheese, which benefits everyone.”