Tag Archives: Casoleta

White Rioja´s – Artisan Valencian Cheeses. A Perfect Match?

White rioja 5Organised by Calduch Communications of Madrid, Valencia´s specialist wine and food press enjoyed a tutored tasting last Tuesday in the Marisqueria Casa Vicent.

VÍ vid were amongst this special group invited to participate in a direct pairing of seven white wines from D.O. Rioja, some oaked, some without, and seven cheeses from amongst the best producers in the Valencian Community, from Castellon in the North to Alicante in the South and Utiel in the interior.

The venue, Marisqueria Casa Vicent,  is one of Valencia´s best known and traditional restaurants specialising in fresh seafood and can be found on Avenida Peris y Valero.

White rioja 10

Pairing white wine and cheese is a well-known practice, Sauvignon Blanc with light sheeps or goats cheeses for example can work well. The principle guideline is to look at the rind and the texture of the cheese. The harder they get they are more likely to take a lightly oaked wine, but the wine has to be able to stand up to acidity, nutty flavours or chalkiness in texture, all of which can kill wine instantly.

And for me there is a cultural difference. The Spanish eat cheese rather more as one of a number of  starters or tapas than we English, who enjoy a plate of cheese in the French style either before or after the dessert at the end of a meal by which time red wines are on the table!

Red wine with cheese  ( with some notable exceptions) is generally considered a non-starter…the old wine trade maxim states `Buy on bread, sell on cheese´, which essentially means the trade buy  wine to retail later cleaning their palate as they go with bread but when they want you to buy it out comes the cheese….because it softens the tannins in the wine, making it more pleasant to drink!

Manchuela and White Rioja 003

Matching the wines with the cheeses was in the hands of Guillermina Sanchéz, a noted sumiller who has a wide-ranging expertise in just this subject.

DO Rioja produces a wide array of wines, both red and white and some of the greatest oaked whites with ageing potential are produced in this part of Spain. Principal varieties are Viura ( Macabeo ) Tempranillo Blanco, Verdejo and Maturana. All the wines we were to taste were  either single varietal wines or blends of these varieties.

Guillerma Sanchéz

Guillermina Sanchéz

The cheeses of Valencia, or at least the artisan ones, are very traditional in shape and also controlled by a DO. Castellon was represented by Tot de Poblet, from Les Coves de Vinroma, Los Corrales from Almedijar: the interior of Valencia by the Camporrobles firm Quesos La Sabina and Quesos le Heretat from Quatretonda, whilst Alicante was represented by Quesos Artesanos La Loma from Elche. These are all companies whose cheeses are to be found at gastronomic fairs and whose names come up regularly at Cheese fairs with winning cheeses in different categories.

Although you might never know it if you simply buy your cheese ready sliced in supermarkets they also come in traditional shapes such as Tronchon, Servilleta and Casoleta being just three of them. They may be pure sheep or goat, a blend of both, from raw milk or semi-pasteurised, fresh, mature ,soft or hard. There is a bigger variety than many people appreciate!

So, the 24 or so participants, from the mainstream press , radio, TV, writers, bloggers and wine distributors sat down to taste the pairings.

We started with Conde de Valdemar, 2014 from Oyón in the  Álava. This was a blend of 85% Viura with Verdejo. This was matched with Queso Picarcho of La Sabina, from raw goats milk. It was soft and creamy with a damp rind.

The wine was pale and fresh, initially closed on the nose until the Verdejo emerged. This was reasonably ripe in the mouth but lacked a bit of acidity. The cheese was creamy with a hint of mushroom but was just too much for the wine.




Second wine was Nivarus 2013, 55%abv Tempranillo and 45% Viura. A little deeper in colour it had had six months in large oak barricas in contact with the lees. Hints of oak over tropical fruit on the nose, nice acidity in the mouth, good fruit and vanilla from the oak and some minerality in the finish.

The cheese this time was the Le Heretat de Pere, a little harder, still with a soft rind. It was a little fuller in flavour, a touch saltier and had a better finish This pairing matched well and this wine also went well with the previous cheese.

Third pairing was the Ijalba Maturana Blanco 2014 unique in being the only wine made with this variety. It was paired with the Servilleta from La Sabina. The wine, from near Logroño was bottled in March this year.

A similar colour to the last wine, it needed more time in bottle but had good acidity , a long finish and was round and deep.

The cheese is pasteurised goats milk, a little stronger in flavour again than the second, the pairing worked well but the general impression was that it worked best with the second cheese.

Some of the Specialist Press

Some of the Specialist Press

Gomez Cruzado  2014 is 85% Viura with 15% Tempranillo Blanco. After vinification there is a short crianza ( 5 months) in oak for half the wine, the rest remaining in concrete deposit. Subtle on the nose, this was matched in the mouth where the combination of oak and fresh wine produced something complex and really rather enjoyable.

The Extramuros cheese from Los Corrales was from raw sheeps milk, quite hard. This had a marked saltiness on the tongue and a hint of bitterness. An excellent match.

Eva Máñez

The fifth pairing placed Campillo Fermentado en Barrica 2014 ( 100% Viura) from Laguardia with a Tronchon from Los Corrales. The wine was paler than its fermentation in oak might have suggested, especially given that it had another six weeks of battonage with the lees.

The cheese is a raw sheeps cheese now with longer maturity and harder rind. Nutty and firm in the mouth, it matched very well with the subtle oak and vanilla of a very well-balanced wine!

The penultimate wine was Sonsierra Fermentado en Barrica 2013, 100% Viura. It was paired with Queso Dama, from Elche. Again from raw sheeps milk, it is a cheese rich in lactic acid and with a soft rind. Clean and fresh the wine was elegant, subtle, in the mouth it was very well balanced. One of the top wines of the tasting.

The cheese had a mushroom, earthy elegance, not too salty, creamy and this was probably the best pairing of the day!

Bertrand `Solo Queso´ with VÍ vid

Bertrand `Solo Queso´ with VÍ vid

Onomástica Reserva 2011 , a 100% Viura from Haro with two years in oak and occasional battonage  is a classic old style Rioja, or so it seemed to me. Golden in colour, rich, ripe and fruity on the nose, with honey in depth over tropical fruit.

In the mouth the oak was unmissable, subtle , cream lacteos, long , very elegant…. a vinazo!!!

The cheese had a degree of subtlety about it as well, matched with truffle on the nose a long finish of its own…but it worked well with the wine as well. Another favourite matching in some quarters!

A light lunch of Jamon , Valencian tomatos in oil with black olives, foie with three marmalades and clotxinas followed.



This was one of the most interesting and successful specialist tastings we had attended this year. There is no question that good white wines from Rioja and Valencian cheeses match  well, However , if there is one unanswered question it has to be `How do the Valencian cheeses match with wines from Valencia´. VÍ vid could immediately think of an oaked Macabeo, a Viognier, a Gewürztraminer and some Chardonnay based wines with short oak crianzas that would fit the bill…..a tasting to think about!

Special thanks go to Guillermina for an excellent session and to Bertrand of Solo Queso for his advice on the cheeses.  And yes, balance of opinion says it was a perfect match!

White rioja Vivid








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