Wine and Dine

Given our focus on cheese, I thought this would be a good time to switch gears and focus the column for a few months on specific cheesemakers or dairies and the wines that love them.

Fresh goat cheeses seem an ideal place to start. Now in their seventh season, Dreamfarm of Cross Plains produces some of the finest chèvre styles in the Midwest. Cheese maker Diana Murphy learned much from grand dame Anne Topham of Fantôme Farm, but produces cheeses that are rounder and a bit more accessible than her mentor’s. Not surprisingly, quality begins in the field: goats are pastured organically and treated with the utmost care. The focus is on fresh styles such as chèvre, which work marvelously with high acid, dry whites. Reds are lovely too, especially dry, lighter styles. As always, temper both your wine and cheese by letting them “breathe.”

Chèvre: O’Shea Scarborough Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc
Yakima Valley, Washington, 2009, $20
Sauvignon Blanc is the classic match with chèvre—this Sauvignon, however, is blended with the Semillon grape, whose earthiness provides a lovely contrast to the brightness of the cheese. A very dry wine for a creamier-than-usual chèvre.

Herbes de Provence Chevre: Ca Bianca “La Chersi”
Barbera di Asti , Italy, 2006, $28
Delightfully dry red with mild, dusty tannins that play with the herbs and bring out the sweetness of the goat’s milk. Serve the cheese warmer and the red cooler than usual.

Ash Rind: Unti “Segromigno”
Dry Creek Valley, California, 2008, $19
Like the chèvre, this is creamy-rich, but denser and chalkier, perfect with high-acid wines such as Sangiovese. Chiantis are wonderful, but also consider a domestic Sangiovese such as Unti’s. It adds another octave of earthiness to the match, but also offers a lovely tart cherry and tobacco contrast.

Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested. Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

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