Fromage Face-Off: Canada’s Cheeses VS the World’s … and Wines To Go With Them

National Capital Sommelier Guild & Beckta Dining and Wine
March 27, 2011 Beckta Dining and Wine

Reported by Richard Thibodeau

On Sunday evening, 27 March 2011, we joined Guild Co-Founder and cheese enthusiast J. Phillip Nicholson and Beckta Dining and Wine’s Maitre d’Fromage Steve Whittaker to explore how Canadian artisanal cheeses compared with some of the most stunning and storied cheeses of the world.

Several of the cheeses
Several of the cheeses — Photo by Maureen Murphy

Canadian cheese makers have come a long way in a short time. But are we there yet? Phil and Steve asked to help decide! And yes! Canadian fromageries are indeed ‘there’. The attendees at this event all agreed that all of the cheeses were quite exceptional and a testament to the art of cheese making.

While Phil and Steve promoted the event as five flights, we were treated to SEVEN flights. Each flight featured a superb Canadian cheese lined up against a worthy world counterpart, and each pair was carefully matched with a delightful and classic wine match selected by Phil and Steve.

As Phil and Steve explained, to pair well with cheese, a good wine match needs acid and freshness to cleanse and restart the palate. The star should be the cheese; the wine must not overshadow the cheese. The wines selected filled that bill, although each flight had its cheese preference. Use the same method of evaluating cheese as you do with wine, with an additional factor: the texture becomes even more important with cheese.

Phil Nicholson (center) and guests
Phil Nicholson (center) and guests — Photo by Maureen Murphy

The special treat of the evening were two Danish cheeses: Kornly and Høgelundgaard Blå. The Kornly is sold only to restaurants. The Kornly is produced by the Tistrup Dairy, the world’s oldest working co- operative dairy having being active for over 120 years. The Høgelund Dairy blue cheese was jaw- droppingly astounding.

There were big surprises around the table about the aged Goudas, and one of them Canadian! Who knew Gouda could be so good and so different from the blocks of supermarket wax generally available?

Below is the list of cheeses and wines we sampled. I suggest you try doing a tasting like this with some friends, or head off to Beckta Dining and Wine for a real cheese and wine treat.

Steve Whittaker poors the wine
Steve Whittaker poors the wine — Photo by Maureen Murphy

AMUSE

  • Soeur Angéle (Double Cream Cow and Goat Milk) (Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, Montérégie, Québec)
  • Kornly (Hard, Pressed, Rye-Grain Aged) (Tistrup Dairy, Denmark)
  • Cava Brut, Conde de Caralt, Spain N.V.

RAW GOAT

  • Bouc Émissaire (Fromages Chaput, Châteauguay, Québec)
  • Selles-sur-Cher AOC (Loire, France)
  • Sancerre “Les Baronnes” Henri Bourgeois 2009

HARD PRESSED, CHEDDAR

  • Avonlea Cloth-Bound Cheddar (COWS, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island)
  • Thomas Hoe Stevenson® Aged Red Leicestershire
  • “Dardo” Vignemastre, IGT Tuscany 2007

SOFT, WASHED RIND

  • Cru du Champlain (Fromagerie F.X. Pichet, Champlain, Québec)
  • Reblochon AOC (Haute-Savoie, France)
  • Chardonnay “Riverstone” J. Lohr, Arroyo Seco, Monterey 2009

HARD PRESSED, GOUDA

  • 3yr. Old Thunder Oak Gouda (Thunder Oak Cheese Farm, Thunder Bay, Ontario)
  • 6yr. Lindenhoff “Farm Cheese” Gouda (Netherlands)
  • Sherry “Solera 1847”, Oloroso Dulce, Gonzalez Byass, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain N.V.

BLUE VEINED

  • Bleu Bénédictin (Benedictine Abbey, Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, Québec)
  • Saint Agur (Beauzac, Auvergne, France)
  • Riesling “Indian Summer” Cave Spring, VQA Niagara Peninsula 2007

PETIT FOURS

  • Høgelundgaard Blå (Høgelund Dairy, Southern Jutland, Denmark)
  • Mont Enebro (Rafael and Paloma Baez, Avila, Spain)
  • Port, Colheita, Hutcheson, Portugal 1999