From the northern Alpine region of Italy near Milan.
Named after the Bitto river which runs through the valley. In the summer months the area is a well known tourist destination and during the winter the alpine region is covered in snow.
It is during the summer months when the cheese is produced, much like Beaufort the cows graze high on the hills and take advantage of the spring grasses producing the best milk for the cheese. The winter cheese production is called ‘Valtellina Casera’
Some of the strict regulations state that the milk must be made from the milk of local dairy cows, goats cheese is used but no more than 10%, this allows for longer aging times.
The cheese production must commence no more than 1 hour after the milking.
The cheese are shaped in to concaved cylindrical moulds, they are matured for 70 days for the fresh cheese and at least 6 months for the aged version.
Each wheel weighs between 8-15kg and are 30-50cm in diameter with a height of 8-10 cm at the edge.
With an intense rich fresh grass notes, fruity overtones and a gentle goat cheese acidity as the cheese ages.
A relative of Single Gloucester from Gloucestershire in South West of England. Other lesser known ‘Gloucester’ cheeses are also produced, such as Cotswold Gloucester & Sage Gloucester despite the name are not from the county of Gloucester!
It is an area with lush countryside and perfect for the old gloucestershire cows due to the local river Severn running through the county.
The cheese was first mentioned in the 1700s and the recipe was written down passed from Mother to daughter, small variations were common from farm to farm.
Double Gloucester was seen as a wealthy persons cheese and the single version was more for the everyday man. The single version was quicker to produce as it required less maturing time. It was also able to be produced during the winter months when the milk was deemed less desirable as it is less creamy.
Not officially a Cheddar due to it being made in Gloucestershire, it is however common to hear people regarding it as such.
Double Gloucester is richer and higher in fat content than single Gloucester, and goes through a higher temperature during production.
The practise of adding Annatto to the cheese came about due to the dairymaids once skimming the fat off of the milk intended for cheese making so they could make butter. Unfortunately the cheese was much paler in colour and so Annatto was added to hide their deception. And since then it has become common practise to enhance the colour profile in this way.
To check for quality the cheeses were stood on and if inferior they would crumble under the weight and deemed ‘hoven’ diseased. Fortunately this is no longer the case and the quality is checked in a more meticulous manor such as tasting and listening to the cheese.
These days Double Gloucester is made in minute quantities compared to previous decades, and many factories mass produce this cheese with minimal guidelines in block styles. However a few dairies do still produce this cheese with much love and care. Mary Quicke of Quickes dairy is one producer bringing this quality cheese back into our memories. If you can, track some down.
With its distingtive orange colour and a buttery mouth feel it has a little tang on the palate and a taste that stays with you long after the cheese has been eaten willing you to buy more.
Oh the list is endless, needless to say if you like to drink something with some particular cheese then do it!
Don’t worry about what people tell you, everyone is different with our own tastebuds, of course there are suggested options that pair well but if their not to your liking do you own thing!
Here is what I’ve found works for me over the years, of course you may differ but that’s ok.
We’ll, start by working our way down the cheeses and I’ll suggest cheeses from the list that I personally think works best.
These are cheeses which have been produced and have had no aging, so no more than a week old and to be enjoyed soon after production. Like Mozzarella, Ricotta etc.
A fresh wine like a fruity Sancerre or refreshing Rose BEER
A light refreshing crisp ale like a lager CIDER
A fresh apple cider with a little sweetness FORTIFIED
A Spanish Sherry with a little sweetness SAKE
Either a dry refreshing Junmai Ginjo or a sweeter Umeshu
With such fresh cheeses and gentle flavours it’s best to not have anything too overpowering. Anything with a crisp refreshing mouth feel that’ll match nicely with a gentle delicate flavoured cheese
WHITE MOULD CHEESE
All Brie & Camembert cheeses are classified as white mould cheeses, as well as triple cream Bries. But here they have been put into their own category below.
White mould cheeses are the most versatile of all the cheeses, they marry well with numerous beverages.
White wine of a dry and fruity nature such as Sauvignon Blanc & Rose
Dry barrel oaked wines such as Chardonnay
Full bodied red wines such as Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon BEER
Crisp refreshing Pilsner style cheeses
Dark full bodied beers CIDER
Classic savoury Normandy Cider FORTIFIED
Port or Sherry SAKE
Like wine, from the dry minerality to the sweet dessert wine style
With a delicate interior of the cheese it pairs well with dry wines
More robust Bries such as Brie de Meaux can handle the stronger full bodied red wines
Fresh crisp beers can withstand the stronger style Bries & Camemberts
Dark heavier beers can give a coffee/chocolate & cream effect
Camembert & Cider both hail from Normandy making them a perfect match
The sweetness of a fortified can pair wonderfully with the creaminess of a white mould cheese
Sake like wine, will pair with all manor of white mould cheeses
CHEVRE/ FRESH GOATS CHEESES
The dry crumbly citrusy cheeses such as any Holy Goat cheeses from Victoria.
Or classic French Goats cheeses from the Loire valley such as the ash coated St. Maure, or Chabichou du Poitou.
A fruity wine, such as a Sancerre, Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Un-oaked Chardonnay or fruity Rose.
An equally fruity sparkling wine such as a Champagne or sparkling wine from the Loire valley.
A sweet dessert wine, like a Late harvest Botrytis or similiar. CIDER
French Cider, these tend to have more savoury apple notes than the sweeter versions outside of France BEER
A crisp fresh Pilsner, Wheat beer with more malty notes such as a Kronenbourg Blanc. SAKE
Junmai Ginjo – A fruity and semi dry Sake, similiar to a Sauvignon blanc
All of the above suggestions match the gentle acidity and fruity notes in these cheeses
Sancerre is France’s Sauvignon Blanc and grows in the Loire valley.
The Loire Valley was originally the home of French Sparklings, until the Champagne region became the largest producer. Hence the name, Champagne now being well known as French Sparkling.
The dessert wine would give a lovely contrasting flavour to the goats cheese, much the same way as you’d drizzle some honey over Goats cheese.
WASHED RIND GOATS CHEESE
Or strong soft goat’s cheeses, such as a Mothais sur feuille, which is matured in very high humidity and gives way to a softer, creamy fudgey interior. These cheeses when aged can have quite a punch to them, leaving the gentle acidity behind and bringing forth more of a zing on the palate.
A sweet dessert wine as you would with a fresh crisp goats cheese.
A robust red wine such as a Pinot Noir, but try to steer clear of anything with too much tannin such as a Cabernet. FORTIFIED
A fortified such as an aged Port or a Spanish Sherry such as a Pedro Ximenez. WHISKY
A whisky, such as a Japanese or Scottish Whisky variety. Possibly not an American Whisky as the smokiness can over power the cheese I find. BEER
A classic Pale Ale, with a hoppy finish. SAKE
Umeshu – A sweet dessert Sake, with a sweet yet slight sourness.
With such a tang to these cheeses they behave similarly to a washed rind so you can pair them with something more robust to bring forth their subtleties.
The sweet wine and fortified will mellow the tang.
A whisky will bring forth the smokiness.
The red wine and Pale Ale will enhance the sweet leaving a creamy texture.
Be wary of red wine with non aged goats cheeses, the wines tannin and the cheeses acidity create a very unpleasant mouth feel. Be sure to taste your combination first before unleashing it on your guests!
WASHED RIND CHEESES
Generally your smellier cheeses, with a sticky rind due to the washing during its maturing period. These cheeses are best eaten and smelt little, they have an oozy texture that coats the palate. Created by the monks who used to eat these cheeses on their ‘fasting days’, which is why sometimes these cheeses are referred to as having a meaty texture!
Such things as Epoisse, Taleggio and Raclette are the most well known.
Washed rind cheeses are best with a dry fruity white wine such as a Gruner Vetliner with a savoury finish.
A sweet Sauternes lends well to these cheeses. BEER
With these cheeses having such a strong taste, and softer washed rind a yeasty taste, they lend well to heavy Trappist beers such as Chimay or a light Stout (Porter). CIDER
Depending on the strength of the cheese a Cider can be a pleasant pairing.
Epoisse is washed in a pomace brandy, so best paired with the same. The ‘meaty’ texture lends well to such strong flavours. Also from Burgundy, so the old adage what grow together goes together. It brings forward the creamy texture.
Raclette being from more Alpine areas, the local wines tend to be more minerally which match the savoury character of the cheese.
A sweet wine would hide a little of the punch whilst still allowing the flavours to penetrate.
A savoury cider would allow for a little sweetness contrasting with the cheese whilst also allowing the full flavours to come though.
The monks were the ones to play with cheese and created their Trappist beers, both having yeasty notes, they really do marry well together.
Such as the Dutch Wyngaard Chevre, Midnight Moon or Queso de Cabra from Spain
These aged semi hard goats cheeses still have a little of the goats cheese acidity but also have a more mellow sweetness that comes through the cheese and a fudgey texture in the mouth
A dry fruity wine such as a Gewurztraminer, or similar sparkling wine.
Sweet dessert wine with Pineapple notes, or try a more gentle fruity Riesling or Chablis with a savoury finish. BEER
A crisp Pilsner or Wheat beer. SAKE
Umajun Junmai – a nutty savoriness and yet a gentle citrus note.
A sparkling wine to bring forward the cheeses sweetness.
Dessert wine to match the sweetness with the acidity of the Goats cheese.
Beer to refresh the palate with crisp bubbles
Sake to provide lively vanilla notes and finish with a crisp citrus to contrast the sweetness.
These cheeses are not for your faint hearted. Most definitely creamy and with minimum 70% fat content it’s not a cheese I recommend eating everyday. But, we have some wonderful suggestions on how to tone down that creamy mouth feel when you cant help but to over indulge!
So, whether you’re into your Brillat Savarin, Delice de Bourgogne or many of the other incarnations, this one is for you!
This type of cheese matches with so many things its hard to narrow down, but here are some of the ways I’ve enjoyed
it. . .
A dry classic French Champagne
A light fruity Rose, to bring forth memories of ‘strawberries & cream’
A sweet dessert wine such as a Vouvray
For something more heavy this cheese stands up to a full bodied Cabernet BEER
A crisp refreshing Pilsner
A heavy Stout, try a Chocolate Stout ‘chocolate & cream’ CIDER
A full flavoured apple cider with gentle sweetness, I prefer the Sidra del Verano from Spain FORTIFIED
With a Tawny Port or for a sweeter version try a Spainish Sherry, Pedro Ximenez WHISKY
A blended malt whisky from Speyside in Scotland, called Monkey Shoulder SAKE
Umeshu – A sweet dessert Sake, with a sweet yet slight sourness.
A Sparkling with lots of bubbles helps to cut through the richness of the cheese
Whilst I’m not a huge fan of dark beers, this is like a chocolate and beer cream delight.
However the bubbles in a Pilsner lightens the cheese cutting through the richness.
The sweetness in the Port helps the cheese feel like a all in one dessert luxury
This particular Whisky has a lovely mellow sweetness that pairs so marvelously with this cheese.
A fruity Sake reminiscent of a dessert wine.
SEMI HARD CHEESES
So, now we’re talking of cheeses such as Ossau Iraty, Chebris & Alpine cheeses such as Uplands pleasant ridge from America, or France’s Comte & Beaufort . . . Manchego which we’ll come to later.
Some of these cheeses are made during certain times of the year but for arguments sake were going to put them into this category for now!
Classically a dry fruity white wine pairs best with Alpine cheeses such as a Vin Jaune
Fruity full bodied red wines have their place too BEER
Belgium Pilsners, with a crisp finish or Pale Ale with more hoppy notes FORTIFIED
Tawny Port or local Topaques SAKE
Karakuchi – with a minerality and upfront fruity notes, perfect for complex cheese flavour profiles
Vin Jaune made in the Comte region (what grows together, goes together)
Ossau Iraty used to have such a pungent aroma/taste that heavy red wines were used to mask the cheese. Thankfully this is no longer the case however the tradition still remains and with its fudgey texture pairs quite well with a fruity full bodied Pinot Noir.
Belgium beers are fruity enough whilst having enough savoury notes to match the complex cheeses
Ports with their sweetness bring out the more savoury notes of these cheeses
Karakuchi Sake, with its minerality makes it a perfect fit for savoury cheeses bring out out its subtle flavours
CLOTH AGED CHEDDAR
Talking of classic British cloth bound cheeses (although there are some great American ones too known as ‘bandaged wrapped’) such as Cabot. These are drier and crumblier than your supermarket versions with a tang that lingers on the palate due to the cheese being aged for 12 months or more
Depending on the strength of the cheese, a hearty red wine such as a Shiraz
A dry oak smoked chardonnay BEER
A bold brown ale FORTIFIED
A Tawny port SAKE
Umeshu, a sweeter style fruity sake
A hearty red wine can match the the strength of a sharp cheddar without becoming overpowering
The oaked Chardonnay will match the dryness of the cheese bringing out the grassy notes
Unless you have an Isle of Mull cheese which has strong whisky overtones so a whiskey would be best!
A full strength beer would match the cheddar without being too strong, what grows together goes together. British Cheddars are best with hearty British ales.
The sweetness of a fortified Port or Umeshu sake contrasts with the sharp cheddar bringing forth other subtle nutty flavours
BUTTERY SOFTER CHEDDARS
Gentle Cheddars such as Cantal, Barbers Cheddar or Double Gloucester which have a more buttery texture and softer notes.
A fresh fruity wine from the same region BEER
A crisp pilsner style beer CIDER
A crisp savoury cider, not too sweet WHISKY
A blended malt whisky from Speyside in Scotland, called Monkey Shoulder
The wine would contrast the butteriness of the cheese bringing other flavours through
A Pilsner style beer would cut through the buttery notes with its refreshing bubbles
A refreshing French style savoury cider to contrast the butter notes
This particular Whisky has a lovely mellow sweetness that pairs so marvelously with this cheese.
A sheeps milk cheese, these generally have a natural oiliness to them with hazelnut overtones
A big bold red wine with heavy tannins
Local Rioja wine BEER
Spanish beer from the La Mancha region with malty notes FORTIFIED
White Spanish Port CIDER
Sweeter Spanish cider like a Sidra del Verano
Manchego is a cheese that pairs wonderfully with heavy tannin red wines and compliment each other
The malty notes of the beer pair beautifully with the nuttiness in the cheese
Spanish Sherry with its sweeter notes brings out the subtler cheese notes
A savoury Spanish white Port would match the savoury notes of the cheese allowing others to come to the fore
The sweeter Spanish cider contrasting the savoury notes of the cheese
Aged Goudas have been aged for 12 months or more and as they age the flavours intensify from a caramel sweetness to a grainy salty texture.
Riesling or something floral
Champagne or something bubbly FORTIFIED
Karakuchi – with a minerality and upfront fruity notes
The floral notes will mellow out the intense sweetness
The bubbles will have the same effect as above
Sherry will match the cheeses sweetness and contrast its saltiness
The Sake with its minerality will match perfectly for complex cheese flavour profiles
Blue cheeses tend to vary in strength but have a saltiness throughout the pate with a strong smell
A sweet dessert wine with fruity pineapple notes
A dessert wine, like a Late harvest Botrytis or similiar. BEER
Full bodied Pale Ale FORTIFIED
Port or Muscat
Spanish Sherry like a Pedro Ximenez WHISKY
The sweetness mellows the saltiness of the cheese
The beer will match the strength of the cheese allowing other notes to come to the fore
The sweetness of the fortifieds pair to bring forth the gentle blue cheese flavours
This whisky has lovely vanilla notes with a gentle smokiness that matches with the cheeses intensity
Be wary of red wine with some blue cheeses, the wines tannin and the cheeses react to create a very unpleasant mouth feel, Metallic almost. Be sure to taste your combination first before unleashing it on your guests!
FLAVOURED HARD CHEESES
Such things as a coffee rubbed rind Bella Vitano American cheese, spiced Cumin Gouda, Isle of Mull Cheddar
These cheeses are interesting as they have so many options due to their flavourings
BELLA VITANO ESPRESSO (coffee rubbed)
Pair with either a coffee or caramel flavoured drink to match the cheese
or a crisp wine or beer to contrast
Pair with either a spiced Rum or Whisky to match the cheese
or a sweeter fruity wine like a Riesling to contrast
ISLE OF MULL CHEDDAR
This cheese is made with the milk of cows which are fed some of the leftover draff from the local whisky distillery.
Pair with a local Whisky to match the cheese
or a crisp refreshing white wine like Sauvignon Blanc to contrast
No matter what you enjoy, there is no wrong or right answers. You’ll be amazed just how much the cheeses can change with what you pair with them.
Everybody has different tastebuds!
An artisan cooked pressed cows milk cheese from the valleys of Ossola in Piedmont, Northern Italy.
Cheese maker Guffanti has restored a sixteenth century cellar situated next to the local dairy in the small mountain village of Oira, for the ripening of his cheese.
The cheese weighs in at 5-7kg and is immersed briefly in the marc of Prunent, a nebbiolo style of wine which is common to this area. The wine gives a wonderfully dark red to the exterior of this cheese but also imparts quite a robust flavour.
Although the cheese and wine have a long history in the area only recently have the two become intertwined to bring us this Ubriaco (drunken cheese)
As the cheese ages the rind leaves a noticeable wine aftertaste.
The cheese is aged for 60 – 90 days within the cheese cellar over the autumn and winter months.
With a compact, intense yellow paste, and a dark purple rind which tends to become paler as it ripens
This cheese has an intense spiciness of red wine with traces of fruit.
A cheese produced in the North eastern part of Italy.
The PDO restricts the cattle & milk to be from the area in order to be called Asiago.
Around 1600, Asiago was first mentioned during an important festival featuring wool and cheeses. The production of Asiago is comprised of 4 Northern provinces; Vicenza, Padova, Trento and Treviso.
Asiago is a town in the Vicenza region, 1000mtrs above sea level.
This cheese is said to be one of the oldest cheeses from the region dating back to . Latin texts mention dairy production in the region during the 5th Century.
During the time when the church would demand ‘rent’ paid in cheese. At the time ewes milk was used, then later cows milk. The PDO became very important to preserve this cheese and its region.
Asiago is available in 5 ages.
Asiago Fresco (Fresh)
has a partial cooking of the walnut sized curds, when it is then salted and then pressed into moulds where the cheese has its stenciled banding applied to imprint the name of the cheese. After 3 weeks it is released yet the cheese doesn’t reach maturity until after 50 days of ripening. It is said to be best enjoyed before 2 months of age.
With a soft elastic texture and irregular eyes, it smells like butter with an yoghurt like acidity, sweet with a slight acidity on the palate.
Asiago Stagionato (Aged)
The milk is left to settle where the cream is removed from the surface and then go through the same process as above with more pressing to remove excess whey.
Asiago Mezzano (Medium)
aged upto 6 months with a compact texture, smells of milk and fresh grass with a sweet taste.
Asiago Vecchio (Old)
aged up to 16months with a firm texture, smells of grass and fresh fruit, mostly pineapple sweetness notes.
Asiago Stravecchio (Very Old)
aged for 15 months or more. A hard textured cheese, golden in colour with very small eyes and notes of dried fruits and spices leaving a sharp aftertaste on the palate
This Italian cow’s milk cheese from the Veneto region, also know as a ‘drunken cheese’ came about when families used to hide their cheeses in wine barrels from invaders, notably during WW1. The peasants were sick of handing over their cheeses to the local troops!
Ubriaco all’Amarone is a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Veneto region in Italy by Moro Latteria di Moro Sergio.
The aging of this cheese is similar to other drunken cheeses. The cheese is aged for 6 – 7 months and then soaked in a local red wine, Amarone for a further 3 months which stains the rind red and seeps through the cheese seeping in and resulting in purle veining and depth of flavour. The cheese is dried for 7 to 8 months. This whole process can take up to 14 months or more, this results in a smooth rich taste.
It is strong and bitey with pronounced wine and grape flavours. The texture is firm and smooth like an aged Parmesan as the soaking helps to keep the cheese moist. With a straight up red wine flavour on the palate but with a lingering punch that stays with you.
A local award wiining clothbound cheddar from just outside of Maffra in Gippsland, Victoria.
an area well known for dairy farming due to the rolling green hills in the area.
Those at Maffra understand the importance of farming from the ground up and regard themselves as farmers first, as they say you can’t have quality award winning cheese without quality feed and therefore healthy cows.
Aged between 15-24 months in their own maturation cellar this cheese has a cloth rind to allow for a thin rind and to retain a large amount of moisture.
Made using vegetarian rennet and milk from holstein and freisian breeds.
Maffra clothbound Cheddar brings all the classic things you want, with its slight crumble yet a buttery sweetness initially leaving a grassy, milky cheddar taste on the palate.
Maffra is a crowd pleaser that pairs well with wine, beer or something stronger.
The Shorrock family have been making Lancashire Cheese for generations, even winning a cheese award before the second world war broke out in 1933.
To this day this family are still winning awards as recently as 2066 when they took all the prizes at the Royal Lancashire Agricultural Show, which was named ‘The Battle of the Lancashires’.
Only Lancashire cheeses were allowed to enter this competition.
Originally a gift given to a friend emigrating to America over 25 years ago, this cheese has been a wonder all the world over since.
Maturing & Tasting notes
The Lancashire Bombs are matured over two years creating a very creamy and full flavoured taste and texture, in which the cheese is aged within the black wax containing moisture and therefore resulting in a soft creamy textured cheese with an acidity tang on the back of the palate reminiscent of another well loved northern English cheese; Wensleydale.
Bay of Fires comes from the east coast of Tasmania, well known for its hilly lush green pastures and crisp fresh air.
In 1773 Captain Tobias Furneaux came upon this coast of Tasmania and seeing it alight named the area Bay of Fires.
History of Bay of Fires
Ian Fowler is one of the 13 generations of cheese makers, with his younger brother still makes cheese in England. Dating back for more than 400 years the Fowlers have always been in the cheese making business, and Ian is definitely one of the flock.
When he bought some land in Tasmania he decided to follow on the family tradition.
Having been brought up on the family farm, one of England’s oldest purpose built cheese factories still being used today. He honed his craft as only the best have, learning his skills from his Father and Grandfather
The Cheddar is made in truckles and still in keeping with the traditional hand made methods, this is where the wonderful fruity, notes come through not only from the lush grass but into the cheese, which has been aged on pine boards before being released to us after 12 months of aging.
The cloth bound Cheddar not only protects the cheese as it ages but imparts a dustiness to the cheese on the rind, yet inside brings forward notes of fruitiness, and smells of fresh grass, with a slight bite you’d expect from a well aged Cheddar.
Placing above Pyengana in the Australian cheese awards this cheese is ensuring the world knows that they produce some amazing cheeses down there!
Fumaison, a raw sheep’s milk cheese from the central region of Auvergne, in France.
A rare cheese for us in Australia due to the limited aging and being a raw milk cheese, it was a pleasure to have this cheese come through customs and I for one hope it is the beginning of many more younger raw milk cheeses to arrive in the country.
History of Fumaison
Created in 1990 by cheesemaker Patrick Beaumont. A relative new comer on the cheese scene, Fumaison is play on the word Fume (meaning smoked in French) and maison meaning a ‘house smoked’ cheese.
The milk is from the Lacaune sheep, which is the most common dairy milk breed in the country.
Patrick uses the same technique as he does for making un joli Jesus de Lyon, a local sausage from Auvergne. It is aged by hanging it from the roof of a cave for 100 days, the same way a ham would be.
The production of Fumaison is quite typical in the cheese making fashion, then the curd is placed in moulds. It is then pressed for 24 hours to remove the remaining moisture. Then Fumaison is brined for a full day before beginning its particular aging process where it’s taken to the local caves where it is then smoked creating a cheese like no other.
Externally the cheese appears to have a dusty mouldy rind, underneath is a paste that smells a little musty of mushrooms with a lingering smokiness. It has many evenly spaced ridges, as if it were bound with butcher’s twine, further perpetuating the faux sausage trickery.
Fumaison has a complex flavour profile. Beginning with a gentle smokiness which is not overpowering and a sweet savoury nuttiness on a firm textured cheese.