Whimsical and traditional cheese pairings by expert Sonoma Cheesemonger, James Ayers to enjoy at home this holiday season.

In addition to classic wine pairings, Ayers believes that wine’s softer sister, vermouth, makes a surprisingly great low alcohol alternative that pairs well with a variety of cheeses for a nice pre-or post-dinner treat.

Ayers is the Cheesemonger at the Sonoma Cheese Factory, and has paired up with local purveyors for his pairings: neighboring Sojourn Cellars, and La Pivón – a Spanish vermouth from 3 Badge Beverage, a Sonoma-based négociant.

La Pivón Blanco Vermouth and Young Manchego or Malvarosa

La Pivón Blanco Vermouth (SRP $29) bears a light, refreshing entry, highlighting fruit on the mid palate with a delicately flavorful finish that compliments buttery sheep’s milk. “Try something with not too much age and that’s not too sharp to entice the senses, such as a young Manchego or Malvarosa. Just barely any acidity but plenty of butteriness. Very simple but just a little zesty,” says Ayers.

La Pivón Rojo Vermouth and Aged Comté

La Pivón Rojo Vermouth (SRP $29) is robust and strong through and through with cinnamon, cardamom and clove. The expression welcomes aged Comté (at least 12 months, preferred 20 months). “Try a semi-soft alpine cheese but not a funky rind that has a flavor reminiscent of toasted nuts. A Swiss mountain cheese would be perfect, as it’s creamy but not too much.” says Ayers.

2018 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay and Domaine du Vallage

2018 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay ($54.00) is a lively and exotic wine with rich flavors, complexity and focus. The rich texture of this chardonnay pairs well with the creamy texture of Domaine du Vallage. “A buttery and lightly acidic flavor with a nice dose of salinity, it is essentially a thick brie that is fortified with an addition of cream or even crème fraiche. Made in the Burgundy region of France, Domain du Vallage was originally developed for children, to encourage dairy consumption. Adults figured out that it was a nice match with Champagne and the rest is history,” says Ayers.

2018 Rogers Creek Pinot Noir and Sonoma Vella Dry Jack Reserve

2018 Rodgers Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir ($48.00) offers rich, silky tannins, smooth structure and impeccable balance. Expressive red fruit and notes of earth and mushroom shine through with intensity, pairing well with Dry Jack’s complex flavor profile. “A Sonoma original, made by The Vella family, the brittle pate is golden in color with deposits of amino acid tyrosine crystals that accentuate the mouthfeel. The flavors are nutty and sweet, with browned butter, earth and balance by some salt,” says Ayers.
Also try: Capricho de Cabra (a bright and sweet Spanish goat cheese)

2018 Wohler Vineyard Pinot Noir and Mezzo Secco

2018 Wohler Vineyard Pinot Noir ($54.00) showcases the exceptional Russian River Valley terroir with its depth and silkiness. The pinot’s rich, lush core and touch of focus and earthy aromatics is complimented best by an approachable cow’s milk cheese like Mezzo Secco. “A Sonoma original and great with a variety of wines. The texture of Mezzo Secco is dense and pliable, with notes of toasted nuts, browned butter and a hint of acidity,” says Ayers.
Also try: Dry Jack (see above)

2018 Reuling Pinot Noir and Latteria San Andrea

2018 Reuling Vineyard Pinot Noir ($69.00) opens with complex aromas of earth and forest floor that lead to dark cherry, mushroom and truffle notes. “This impressive and distinctive wine meets its match with Latteria San Andrea, a hard, slightly sweet and nutty skimmed cow’s milk cheese from Northern Italy. Its flavor is moderately sharp, and the texture is firm and cheddar-like,” says Ayers.Also try: Capricho de Cabra (see above), Domaine du Vallage, Dry Jack (see above)

2017 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon and Estero Gold Reserve

2017 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon ($79.00) is a powerful, rich, structured wine with expressive fruit character and lush tannins. “Vivid flavors of blackberry, raspberry, cassis and mocha are the perfect match for the earthy flavors found in Estero Gold Reserve, an extra-aged Parmesan style cow’s milk cheese. It is deep gold in color, with a firm to crumbly texture due to its 18 months of age. The flavors are complex and grassy, with notes earth and sharpness,” says Ayers.
Also try: Domaine du Vallage (see above)


Courtesy of Glodow Nead Communications.