Wine and cheese have been friends for a long time.
Their paths cross logically throughout culinary history. Logic would tell us that the old adage that "what grows together goes together", but as our options and choices become lusher, we cannot help but tinker with pairings.
In general, late-harvest wines or ports are the go-to choices to pair with blue-veined cheese. There are other delicious and creative options, however. A McEvoy Ranch Cabernet and a white Rhone varietal blend recently produced a couple of lovely partnerships with Pt. Reyes Cheese Company's two blue cheese offerings.
In the late 1990's, the Giacomini family of West Marin decided to reduce the size of their Holstein dairy herd and transition their fluid milk business to artisan cheesemaking.
In 2000, Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company introduced the first wheels of Original Blue to Bay Area consumers. A few years down the road, Kuba Hemmerling joined the company as Head Cheesemaker and developed other outstanding and award winnings cheeses, including another blue-veined cheese called Bay Blue. Both kinds of cheese are made with the highest quality Grade A milk from the family's closed herd of Holsteins. All the animals are raised from birth on this beautiful property overlooking Tomales Bay.
Original Blue is a raw milk cheese with sweet milk flavors and an assertive finish. In looking for a pair, we decided on McEvoy's 2016 Pacheco Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. It is filled with flavors of green and black olives as well as cassis and black currant. We needed big wine flavors to go with big cheese flavors. We melted some Original Blue onto a grilled beef burger and the persistent finish and berry flavors of the Cabernet were a delicious pairing with Original Blue.
Bay Blue with its rustic style, reminiscent of Stilton, has mellow, sweet and salted flavors with a caramel finish. Bay Blue challenged us to find a match that would mirror and enhance the flavors in the cheese. McEvoy's 2016 Bonfiglio Vineyard White Blend was the choice. It is a Rhone-style blend of 60% Viognier, 20% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne. It is produced from grapes grown in the Russian River Appellation that fully ripen while maintaining natural acidity. The wine is lush, both in flavor and texture. Also, it is balanced with good acid and showing flavors of pear liquor. The honeyed finish on the wine was wonderful with Bay Blue crumbled onto a frisee salad dressed with a classic vinaigrette.
Branch out and enjoy!