Good wine pairings for Saint-Nectaire
Having spent a few days in the Auvergne recently and eaten more than my fair share of Saint Nectaire cheese with a variety of wines, mostly natural, here’s what I think works best.
Saint Nectaire is a semi-soft cows’ cheese with a buttery consistency and a crumbly grey-ish brown rind. It can have quite a strong flavour - though not as strong as ‘stinky’ French cheeses such as Epoisses. It’s a well-known enough cheese to have its own website though only in French.
The locals would drink it with a red, most likely gamay or a gamay blend though a crisp white or even a sweet wine could work equally well, depending on whether the cheese is mass-produced or made on the farm by an artisan producer. Here are my top picks:
* Gamay from the Loire, Auvergne or Beaujolais - ‘natural’ wines, made with indigenous yeasts, are a good match with stronger flavoured ‘fermier' cheeses
* A red burgundy or other traditionally made pinot noir
* A rustic red like Marcillac or a fruity young syrah from the Rhône
* Chardonnay from the Auvergne (leaner, less creamy than burgundy). I reckon a mature vieilles vignes (old vine) Chablis would also work
* Dry or medium-dry (demi-sec) Chenin Blanc from the Loire e.g. Vouvray or Montlouis or richer South African Chenin Blancs. A sweeter Chenin could be good too, particularly if it was a few years old - i.e. honeyed rather than simply sweet
* Savignin from Switzerland or the Jura
* or try a sparkling Breton or Normandy cider.
Other good suggestions from wine writer Victor de la Serna on Twitter: "Asturias/Galicia reds, young bobal, manzanilla" Not sure about the manzanilla but a dry amontillado would be good, as would a tawny port or a dry madeira.
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