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Match of the Week - Grant’s choice: Coolea and Cazal Grand Cru 2008

I would like to introduce you to a great man: handsome, charming, and talented, the events manager of Laithwaite’s Arch at London Bridge, Grant Hedley. While his good looks and engaging manner are immediately apparent on meeting him, it his his talent which is the quality of interest to us in this instance. You see, Grant is very good at picking out delicious and interesting wines, and describing them in a way that brings them to life. It is for this reason, and not because if I nice him up he might give me free wine, that I am featuring one of Grant’s favourite pairings from our last tasting together as this week's Match of the Week.

Coolea is a hard cow’s milk cheese made to a Gouda recipe by Dicky and Sinead Willems on their farm in County Cork, South-West Ireland. The cheese comes in 8 kilo wheels with a rounded edge, covered in a waxy yellow rind called plasticote. the paste is a deep orange colour and is more dense and hard than a Somerset Cheddar but less elastic than Comte or Gruyere. Although they do sell their cheese younger, I like it at at least 18 months when a sweet toffeeish flavour develops, alongside some nutty and delicately spicy flavours.

And now to the Cazal, a grand cru Champagne made in the Côte de Blancs in the Champagne region of France by Delphine Cazal, the fourth generation of her family to do so. Here's Grant:

‘Aged for 7 years on the lees for depth and richness of character, it is from the outstanding 2008 vintage. The character of the Champagne itself is a nutty, toasty, caramel, infused citrus and apricot mouthful of deliciousness! Dry, with edgy acidity and great depth.’

You see? Don’t you just want to drop this and nip down to Laithwaites right now for a bottle? I would also add that I noticed a a very subtle oxidised character which I think comes from the lees ageing.

Normally my go to match for Champagne or any sparkling white would be a soft bloomy rind cheese. More familiar examples would be Brie or Camembert but so far my favourite match for a bubbly has been St Jude, made in Suffolk.

So this time I wanted to do something different, to find a hard cheese that would work just as well. The ‘edgy acidity’ in the Cazal made me want to reach for something sweet as a contrast and Coolea is the sweetest cheese I know. I also thought that the burnt sugar or toffeeish flavour in the cheese would resonate with the toasty aroma of the Champagne.

Grant and I think they are absolutely smashing together but don’t take our word for it, try them yourselves. You can buy Coolea from Neal's Yard Dairy, London, Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Galway and Dublin, Iain Mellis' Cheesemongers, Edinburgh and Glasgow and the Cazal from Laithwaites online or from their Arch Store at London Bridge.

Grant would like to have a final word here about the price of this delicious drink:

‘It’s £34.99 for a Grand Cru Vintage Champagne! The reason we got it is our excellent relationship with a family whose grapes normally go to the more famous Grand Marques of the top houses. Delphine Cazal’s decision to make a Champagne this vintage and sell it to us is wonderful for champagne lovers.’

If you would like to see Grant and I, once memorably described as ‘the Two Ronnies of cheese and wine,’ doing our stuff sign up to the Cheese Tasting Co. newsletter. Our next event will be on the 12th of April, and there is still time to enter the competition to come up with a theme and title for this tasting. Grant and I will also be hosting a series of tastings across the year called The Four Seasons.

If you would like to arrange a private or corporate cheese tasting or just have an enlightening conversation about cheese contact me here.

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