Cheese Series: Sancerre and Crottin de Chavignol
I love cheese and wine together! It’s my favorite type of pairing to do. I always end each dinner party with a few cheese courses, serving only one cheese at a time and each cheese paired with its own wine. The cheese and wine pairings at my dinner parties have always been wildly successful so I thought that it would be a good idea to start a cheese series in this blog. I have already written a post back in November about pairing Camembert with apple cider. This post is the second of many entries on this topic.
The wine that I’m featuring today is Sancerre, a wine from the Loire Valley made with the sauvignon blanc grape. I am a fan of sauvignon blancs in general because I really enjoy the fragrant wines that these grapes produce. But I especially love sauvignon blancs from the Loire Valley (in addition to the Sancerre, the other famous sauvignon blanc from this region is the Pouilly Fumé). This wine region is fairly up north in France and as a result enjoys a cool climate. Grapes grown in regions with colder temperatures and less sunshine tend to create crisp wines that are high in acidity. I love these wines because they are so refreshing.
Acidic wines go great when contrasted with rich foods – such as creamy sauces and cheeses. On the other hand, acidic foods don’t work as well because they augment the acidity in the wine, making the wine appear unbalanced. Acidic wines also go really well with savory foods, as salt highlights and enhances the acidity in a wine – for instance salty potato chips and super acidic champagne work wonders together.
Sancerre goes especially well with another local favorite from the Loire: crottin de Chavignol, the goat cheese produced in the village of Chavignol (which only boasts 200 inhabitants). It is made with unpasteurized milk from Alpine goats and as I always say, raw milk cheeses taste infinitely better than their pasteurized counterparts. Crottin is not a fresh goat cheese and spends at least four weeks aging and in the process becomes slightly crumbly. The longer it ages, the stronger and more crumbly it becomes. In the aging process, the cheese also becomes more savory – the salt that will work really well with the acidity in the Sancerre. The crottin is definitely saltier and stronger than fresh goat cheese (but still mild enough to not overpower the lightness of the Sancerre).
You can see from the picture below that the outside of the cheese is becoming crumbly while the middle is still creamy. This definitely one of my most favorite cheeses!
I am pairing this cheese with a Sancerre produced by Pascal Jolivet. It is part of his “Initial” line and the vintage is 2013. Domaine Pascal Jolivet is an excellent Sancerre producer. My other favorite from this region is Domaine Vacheron.
This wine has a beautiful color. It has lots of zing, racy acidity, and citrus aromas. What a lovely Sancerre!
Pairing a food from the Loire valley with a wine from the region is what’s called a regional pairing, where foods from a particular region are paired with wines from that same region. When in doubt about which wine to serve, I usually do a regional pairing. The idea behind this type of pairing is that because the food and wine share the same terroir, they will work well together. However, this is not foolproof and not all regional pairings work. For instance, the regional pairing for Epoisses cheese is a red burgundy. However, Epoisses is such a strong cheese in flavor and especially aroma that it often overpowers the delicate flavors of the burgundy. Rather, a late-harvest gewürztraminer is a much better pairing.
I think the Sancerre with the crottin de Chavignol is a match made in Loire heaven. They just go so well together! However, with the crottin de Chavignol, you don’t have to do a regional pairing and another type of wine I love with goat cheese and especially the crottin is an Alsace Riesling.