The Summer can be a rough time for cheesemongers, as many people think that cheese is too rich for the warmer weather. Thankfully there are plenty of light and delicate cheeses and plenty of wines, sparkling wines and beers to pair with them. Just the thing for Summer themed cheese tasting.
Cheshire is perfect for a picnic on a hot Summer’s day as its delicate mineral flavour and zippy acidity will not overwhelm the palate. For complimentary minerality and aromatic fruitiness I suggest a Riesling - a restrained old-world style like those from the stable of Karl May will do nicely. The Cheshire should be Appleby’s - unpasteurised, cloth bound, made on the family farm in Shropshire from the milk of their own herd of happy cows. You can buy Appleby’s Cheshire from Neal’s Yard Dairy.
For something more indulgent, choose a soft, mould ripened cheese from the family of Camembert or Brie although I prefer a firmer texture and a lighter flavour in the hot weather, like St Jude made by Julie Cheyney in Suffolk. A young St. Jude, which you can also buy from Neal’s Yard, has a fudgey texture and a fresh yeast note which goes well with a nice toasty sparkling wine, like The Vintner’s Cremant Bourgogne Brut Rose, by Leonce Bouquet. Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue so nicely? When you open a bottle which I like to do as often as possible, you get a lovely aroma of fresh bread and in the flavour a hint of Summer fruit which goes so well with this creamy cheese.
Another reason not to give up on cheese during the Summer is that this is the season of goat’s cheeses - goats are independent minded animals and don’t see why they should give you milk unless it’s Spring or Summer. France is famous for its goats cheeses and it has many to be proud of particularly in the Summer months. From the Loire valley come lush milky logs of St Maure and the redoubtable Crottin, the Limousin provides us with moussy and salty cheeses like Gour Noir and Bi-Caillou, and then there is Provence, whose cheeses are delicately flavoured with a low salt content that makes them taste slightly sweet. Mistralou, which along with all the aforementioned cheeses, you can buy from Mons Cheese, is a great example of this style: small square cheeses with a snowy white rind wrapped in a sweet chestnut leaf that gives them a subtle nutty flavour. One way to pair wine with cheese is to find wines from the same region, so with your Mistralou you could try a Provence rose with notes of strawberry and pepper, like this Chateau Gigery 2015.
Britain also produces many top quality soft goat’s cheeses. Dorstone, made by Charlie Westhead in Herefordshire has a citrussy acidity that brings out the fruit nicely in a jammy Beaujolais. Then there is the late Mary Holbrook's Sleightlett, a young fresh cheese made in Somerset which I like to pair with the Kernel Brewery’s uncompromising London Sour Raspberry, a Berliner Weisse style beer. You'll have to go to one of Neal's Yard Dairy's shops if you want one of these cheeses. They're too soft and delicate to sell on line.
So you see there is much to be celebrated in the world of Summer cheese, and these are just some ideas with which to enliven your picnics, garden parties and barbecues. Or you can leave all the work to me and book a tasting for your home or office…