WINES & CHEESES with Liz Wheadon
Pol Roger - Epernay
Our monthly Channel Wine & Food columnist is Liz Wheadon, General Manager of Glengarry Wines. Liz is also a passionate foodie. Weekends are often spent first planning the event and then entertaining friends and family with magnificent food and wine experiences.
"The most drinkable address in the world" – Winston Churchill
Pol Roger is one of only a few champagne houses that remain family owned, a history and pedigree that rightly so they are very proud of.
Pol Roger are all about quality, as it is their non vintage that a champagne house stands or falls on.
The team at Pol Roger take a lot of time and extra care in making their Non Vintage Champagne. So whilst the minimum age stated for a sparkling wine made in the champagne area is 18 months, Pol Roger non vintage is not released until it is three years old.
To make its non vintage style, Pol Roger uses a third of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with grapes coming off top vineyard sites in the region.
Pol Roger is one of six houses that bears the English Royal Seal (the first house to receive the Royal Seal was Bollinger in 1884, issued by Queen Victoria); it’s a pedigree that has been bestowed on them, so when it came time to select a wine for the Royal Wedding in 2011, Buckingham Palace asked for a proposal from each of the houses who wear the seal and Pol Roger was thrilled to be selected by the now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as the wedding champagne.
Pol Roger’s top cuvee is called, Cuvee Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill was a huge fan of Pol Roger, loving its vintage champagnes and preferring the years high in Pinot Noir. After his death, Pol Roger added a black band to Pol Roger that was shipped to the UK. It was not until 1975 that the first Cuvée Winston Churchill was released (and only in magnum). After discussion with the Churchill family, it was agreed a cuvée would be made in a style similar to the vintages that Winston enjoyed. Adding to the quest for quality and authenticity, all grapes used in Cuvée Winston Churchill are off vineyards that were under vine at the time of Winston Churchill.
Pol Roger also make a wonderful Blanc de Blanc, meaning white of white. Blanc de Blanc is champagne made from 100% Chardonnay. Pol Roger take fruit from only grand cru vineyard sites to make this wine. It's a vintage champagne from the delightful 2000 vintage, meaning all grapes used to make it come from this one year. Whilst it is great right now, with 12 years of age and already showing some creamy, toasty notes, it will reward those with the patience to pop it into the cellar.
Also in the range is a vintage Rosé. The current vintage is the 2002, with two sublime things together, a great vintage and a great house! Predominately Pinot Noir (60%), it's made by making first the white wine, then by adding 13% red wine (Pinot Noir from the champagne region) before the second fermentation. Up front it gives you whiffs of rose petal, it's very pretty; but don't be fooled, it's a rich, Pinot driven full bodied Rosé from the exceptional 2002 vintage. There's few 02 vintage champagnes left on our shelves, no surprise that the quality conscious folk at Pol Roger give this more time before releasing.
Matching Beer with Cheese
With the number of craft breweries in New Zealand reaching new records, an explosion of interest in the artists of the beer world, and the amazing quality (and diverse range) of craft beer being produced, if you have not already, it’s time to stand up and have a look at what all the fuss is about.
At Glengarry, we are so excited about the innovation in craft beer that starting 23rd September we are hosting (celebrating) our first Beer Week. Throughout the week it is all about shining a spotlight on these artisans, with a series of nightly tastings in every Glengarry store and a collection of big events through the week.
It’s great fun to match craft beer with food and being a little bit obsessed with cheese, I thought it’d be fun to work out some guidelines / matches that work. So after a fair bit of experimentation, here are my thoughts on cheese and beer. It’s a little like matching wine with cheese, try to match like with like;
- Salty cheese with salty beer
- Sweet cheese with sweet beer
- Bitter cheese with bitter beer
- Rich bodied cheese with rich beer
And so on, with matching like with like, it’ll enhance the characters of both the cheese and the beer.
Unlike wine, you also do need to consider the carbonation of the beer – lots of bubbles or not, also the alcohol content of the beer. With both, it’s often a cheese with a higher fat content that can match well with higher alcohol and bubbles, in fact the alcohol can break through the fat and the bubbles act to cleanse the palate. Here’s a few of the more ‘common’ styles of craft beer and my suggested cheese match:
Ale – In terms of taste, with the large variation in styles of Ales, it’s hard to make a generalisation however a consistent character is that they are floral and herbaceous. Ale’s match well with washed rind cheeses – ones that are quite young so that they are still smooth, mild and with lovely floral characters.
IPA – Indian Pale Ale – There are many different styles of IPA produced (American IPA, English IPA, Imperial IPA and the list goes on), the main commonality between them is that IPA are quite a bitter beer with strong hop flavour. To match the bitter, strong flavour try with a Gorgonzola, a slightly bitter and strong Italian blue cheese.
Lager – In comparison to other styles, Lager’s tend to be drier and served quite cold, the clean fresh style suits a young piece of Cheddar.
Porter – Originating in London and named after its popularity with street and river porters (transportation workers), Porter is a dark style of beer, made from brown malt. Tastewise, a Porter is typically spicy with a distinctive dark malt flavour and a slight sweetness. A Porter goes well with the slightly sweet nutty characters of Gruyere.
Stout – Similar in style to Porter’s, Stout’s are essentially the strongest Porter’s. Rich, dark and not for the faint hearted. To match, a well aged, strong and crumbly Cheddar is ideal.