Six Cabernet All-Stars


I’m vaguely aware that my husband, Doug, maintains a list of cheeses that go well with Cabernet Sauvignon. You might imagine that I would be the one with that list, but no, he’s the go-to source. He’s the winemaker, after all.
His personal roster is based on years of tasting alongside me at dinner. I didn’t even know he was squirreling away his impressions, and presumably some of mine, until one evening when he fetched his iPhone to access the list. What a relief that at least one of us is organized, and I can view his archive on a need-to-know basis.
Last week, for a private tasting at Silverado Vineyards, I presented some of these Cabernet Sauvignon All-Stars—six cheeses that, in our experience, never fail to complement good wines from this esteemed variety. Doug makes a lot of Cabernet and we like to drink it relatively young, so we favor cheeses that are adept at handling the tannin.
Powerful red wines with a firm tannic backbone, such as Silverado Vineyards SOLO (100% Cabernet Sauvignon), appreciate aged cheeses with intensity and concentration. At least that’s my theory. Open a favorite Cabernet sometime soon, try it with any of the following cheeses, and let me know what you think.

Solo & Cheese

The cheeses in the image above are in the following order clockwise, with St. George at 11 o’clock.

Matos St. George (California): a sturdy farmstead cheese made with raw cow’s milk, it has a texture that can range from creamy to waxy, depending on age, and an aroma of warm butter.
Beecher’s Flagship (Washington): Made in a rindless 40-pound block and matured for at least a year, Flagship resembles a mellow, creamy Cheddar. The cheesemaker follows a Cheddar recipe but adds cultures more common to Gruyère and Emmenthal, to yield a sweeter, nuttier cheese.
Abbaye de Belloc (France): This dense, firm sheep’s milk cheese has a silky texture and seductive aromas of brown butter, toasted nuts and caramel. The finish is salty and sweet.
“La Oveja Negra” Manchego (Spain): My new favorite Manchego, this one is unusual in several respects: it is a farmstead cheese, made with organic milk from the rare black-skinned Manchega sheep. (Most Manchego is made in large plants, with pooled milk from the white-skinned Manchega.) The aroma reminds me of lemon cheesecake and lamb fat, and the cheese finishes with a lemony note.
Piave (Italy): This firm, brittle cow’s milk cheese from northeast Italy is always a crowd pleaser. It has the texture and sweetness of young Parmigiano-Reggiano and the nuttiness of Gruyère. I often find a fruity, pineapple scent in Piave as well.
Vella Dry Jack Reserve (California): A California classic, for good reason. Aged a minimum of eight months, Dry Jack Reserve becomes highly concentrated, with a dense, firm interior and a caramel-like sweetness balanced with salt.