Our November meeting was a real treat with local cheese & wine experts Martin and Charles joining forces to guide us through some delicious flavours!
Before we started though, Julie from our chosen charity, Demelza, introduced herself and told us all a bit more about the Hospice and what they do for families in need of their help. She also explained exactly how our fundraising would make a difference, what the money buys and encouraged everyone to support our fundraising Belles' Birthday Ball in March.
Martin joined us from his new shop on Uckfield High Street, Cheese Etc..., with a wonderful and varied selection of cheeses. We had a hard cheese, a goats cheese, a cheddar, a brie style cheese, a blue cheese and . We also had a small taste of "Sheese", vegan cheese, for our dairy free members to join in too.
Charles from Noble Wines, chose a selection of red and white wines as well as a mulled cider and a beer to go with the cheeses chosen by Martin.
We started with Vacherin Mont D'or paired with a Pinot Grigio which costs just £4 per bottle! This was a brie style cheese which is pasteurised and made with traditional rennet and very mild and creamy. I really liked it and despite not being a white wine drinker, I enjoyed the Pinot Grigio too. The wine was light and easy to drink with fruity notes to compliment the buttery notes of the cheese.
Our second cheese was Lord of the Hundreds, a local hard cheese which is made from Sheep milk in East Sussex. This was a Manchego style with a natural rind, it had flavours of burnt caramel and nuttiness and a grassy sweet aroma. It reminded me of a milder parmesan and was very enjoyable. This cheese was paired with Nine Tails Beer (£2.70). I missed Charles' comments on this one as I was busy taking pictures and preparing the next cheese but I was not a fan. It was very bitter and just not to my taste.
Our third cheese was Rosary, the mildest, creamiest soft goats cheese I've ever tasted. It's pasteurised and was very light and fluffy, I would definitely buy some of this for a different addition to a cheese board. This one was paired with Montepulciano, another bargain at £4 per bottle and a nice light, fruity Sicilian red with low tannins.
The fourth cheese was another local one from the same makers in East Sussex, Broadoak Cheddar. This is an unpasteurised one but is vegetarian. It was a lovely strong cheddar which I wouldn't have thought of pairing with a white wine but it was delicious with the Marsanne chosen by Charles. Surprisingly, this was one of my favourite wines, it was very fruity like a Chardonnay but with the acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc and slightly sweeter. It has 3 months on Oak and is from Le Forge in South West France, a relatively new label using only the very best of their grapes. Apparently it's very hard to find Marsanne on its own so I for one will certainly be buying a bottle or two despite it being one of the pricier ones at £9.99.
Cheese no.5 was Bowland, a very unusual Christmas Cake cheese! Another unpasteurised one, this was very sweet and reminded me of mince pies with a cheesy twist. It was nice to taste a tiny bit but I couldn't imagine eating any more, although it did go well with the hot mulled spiced Monk's Delight Cider.
Our 6th and final cheese was a Stilton, a nice strong blue cheese, I'm afraid I didn't catch much of Martin's chat about this one other than maggots being mentioned a few times!? (I believe he was talking about Stilton back in the day and not the one we were eating, I hope!) The final wine was another favourite of mine, a big heavy red which spends 6 months on old Oak and 1 month on new Oak. Governo was also the most expensive at £19.99 although is currently on offer with Buy One Get One Free!
All in all, it was a very informative, very tasty and very fun evening with wonderful hosts in Martin and Charles, keeping us both entertained and informed. They are both incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their respective fields and I would highly recommend both of their well stocked and friendly shops.