“Wine and cheese” go together so well it’s almost a cliche. Recently, Sonoma’s Sonoma-Cutrer Winery got together with one of northern California’s most noteworthy cheesemakers, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese, to arrange a side-by-side tasting of both of their most iconic products.
Three wines were tasted alongside four cheeses — Original Blue, Bay Blue (a mild, rustic style of blue cheese), Toma (a firm, pasteurized cow’s milk cheese), and Aged Gouda. Thoughts on the wines — and the best cheese pairing for each — follow.
2019 Sonoma-Cutrer Rose of Pinot Noir – There’s tons of ripe strawberry and some watermelon here, with a moderate acidity and a more gentle sweetness. The light body and sweeter finish can work well with a stronger cheese — Bay Blue was the recommendation — but I felt it had a natural kinship with the milder Toma. B+ / $25
2017 Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – Sonoma-Cutrer’s pinot noirs are always more rustic in style, melding black fruits with a brambly character that feels like a natural companion to a hearty cut of beef. Lively blackberry and toasty cola notes linger on the finish. It pairs nicely with the gouda, as recommended, but I found the gouda’s saltiness a bit much for this one; again, I loved it with the buttery Toma, bringing out some of the lightly nutty notes in the wine. A- / $34
2018 Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay Russian River Ranches – Gently buttery, with notes of applesauce, cinnamon, and some lemon curd. Straightforward but totally on point, its gentle body enveloping the palate with a creamy, lingering finish. This one was intended as a Toma pairing, but I found it paired more beautifully with somewhat contrasting, saltier offerings, including the blue cheeses (the Original Blue being a secondary suggestion) and, especially, the salty, slightly crunchy aged gouda. Well, call me contrary across the board! (Note: This wine is typically a restaurant exclusive wine but, during these difficult times, it’s temporarily available at retail.) A- / $28