Food & Drink: A match made in Auvergne

Drinking Champagne with cheese is a divine indulgence, says Anthony Rose

If matching cheese and Champagne sounds overly self-indulgent, how about a partnership between cheese and Krug? Only the most ascetic of gourmets would turn down an opportunity to put this exclusive Champagne through its paces with a variety of Paxton & Whitfield's finest and smelliest - with Krug's eminence grise, Henri Krug, as master of ceremonies.

Krug, in case you need reminding, is a luxury few can afford. When Krug HQ noticed recently that Dom Perignon was selling for a tiny bit more, instructions were issued to "re-position" Krug Grande Cuvee, now pounds 69.99 (at Oddbins and selected Tesco), above it.

If Krug Grande Cuvee is expensive, it pales in comparison with the two even grander vintages on show: the 1989 (pounds 85), an aromatic, opulently flavoured Champagne which, according to Henri Krug, compares to "a concerto", and the 1989 Clos du Mesnil (pounds 150, both at Harrods and Fortnum's), a subtly stylish Champagne made from Chardonnay grapes grown in the Clos du Mesnil vineyard, which celebrates its 300th anniversary this year.

The notion that wine and cheese go together is probably a throwback to Sixties parties when rubbery cubes of supermarket cheddar were served on sticks with indeterminate wine. There are, of course, matches made, if not in heaven, at least approaching it. Vintage port and Stilton, or Roquefort with Sauternes are such classic combinations they have become gastronomic cliches. The principle that opposites attract, in this case fruit sweetness and salty blue cheese, is the key to discovering similar partnerships.

Less obvious but no less popular, the almost acrid pungency of goat's cheese works brilliantly with aromatic whites with lively acidity such as Sancerre and Pouilly Fume and some of the less assertive New Zealand Sauvignons. On the other hand, subtle red wines, particularly red Bordeaux, are destroyed by most cheeses, especially soft fatties such as Camembert and Brie. Reserva Rioja or mature Chianti Classico work better with hard cheeses such as Comte, Cheddar, Mimolette, or Parmesan.

Back in Jermyn Street, the 15 Paxton & Whitfield cheeses were sub-divided into four taste groups. In the first group, Cheshire, Beaufort, Berkswell (sheep) and Golden Cross (Sussex goat); the sheep and the goat got the better of Krug, while the fruitiness and relatively unfatty texture of the milder Beaufort from Savoie blended harmoniously with all three wines. The absurdly buttery Chanteraine and Boursault in the second group could not be wrested from the palate, but the Chaource, a perky cow's cheese with bite from the Champagne region, chimed perfectly with the bite of the Clos du Mesnil.

Among the group of intensely stinky cheeses that followed - Carre de l'Est, Langres Livarot and Maroilles - it seemed unimaginable that anything could stand up to the smelly Maroilles. In fact, its mild smokiness and pungency contrasted nicely with the full-flavoured fruit of the 1989 vintage. But it was the moderate pungency and slight graininess of the Carre de l'Est which won me over. As for blue cheese, Roquefort is too salty by half. Even Stilton's veins are a little too full-blooded. Fourme d'Ambert, however, a relatively mild but tangily creamy blue-veined animal from the Auvergne, is the answer.

Henri Krug wouldn't like you to take my word for it, though

White of the week

1997 Sauvignon Blanc, San Simeone Friuli, Grave DOC, San Simeone, pounds 4.85, Waitrose. In the crossfire between Loire Valley and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, it is easy to miss other cool-climate regions that achieve good quality, excellent value Sauvignon Blanc. From Grave del Friuli, in north- east Italy, this grassy dry white with grapefruit and gooseberry nuances is streaked with Alpine zing.

Red of the week

1996 Sutter Home Napa Gamay, End of the Vine, Napa Valley, pounds 6.99, Safeway. An unusual and delicious surprise. The Gamay in question is not the Gamay of Beaujolais fame but almost certainly Napa Gamay, aka the little-known south-western French Valdiguie. Made from 100-year-old bush vines, now sadly uprooted, it is a smoky, richly concentrated red full of blackberry and damson plum fruitiness. So farewell then ...

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Pistorius leaves Pretoria High Court to be taken to prison

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Life and Style

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Life and Style

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Geography Teacher

    £21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Geography Teacher ? ...

    Cover Supervisor

    £50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienced Cover Super...

    Cover Supervisor

    £50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Randstad Education is looking to e...

    Science Teacher

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Science Teacher - Maternit...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album