Cheese and wine

Peerless pairs

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PAIRINGS: THE WOWS

California goat cheese and French chèvre with Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs. And goats were just the beginning. The Schramsberg was also sensational with the Parmigiano reggiano, the dry jack, the crescenza, the aged gouda, and even the Stilton.

French chèvre with Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir. This combination would make a wonderful course in any meal.

Dry jack with Benziger Chardonnay. Chardonnay is hard to pair with cheese, but the dry jack was an amazing match here, just as it was with the Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Aged Mahon with Mason Sauvignon Blanc. In this match the cheese tasted more dramatic and rich, as did the wine.

Taleggio with Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape. An exceptional pairing; the wine and cheese were sensational in each other's company. Taleggio was also a winner with the Mason Sauvignon Blanc and the Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir.

Explorateur with Comte Lafond Sancerre. This was a surprise! The mineral quality of the Sancerre was just the ticket against the rich creaminess of the cheese.

Aged gouda with Cline Live Oak Vineyard Zinfandel. Big drama here ― a larger-than-life combo. The aged gouda was also magnificent with the Stags Leap Cabernet.

Truffle-studded cheese with Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A sensual and intense marriage.

Stilton with Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Porto 1994. Everything you've heard about the perfection of Stilton and port together is true.

THE WINES

White

Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs 1996 (Napa Valley), $28. Creamy, yeasty, and elegant.

Mason Sauvignon Blanc 1999 (Napa Valley), $15. I'm a big fan of this wine. It's limy, fresh, herbal, intense, and elegant all at the same time.

Comte Lafond Sancerre 1998 (France), $25. Lean and grassy with a mineral quality―the quintessential Sancerre.

Trefethen Dry Riesling 1999 (Napa Valley), $15. A gorgeously floral Riesling with subtle hints of peach.

Hugel Riesling 1997 (Alsace), $17. A bone-dry, fairly full-bodied Riesling.

Beringer Gewürztraminer 1999 (California), $7. Full-bodied and ever so slightly sweet, with litchi flavors.

Benziger Chardonnay 1998 (Carneros), $13. Buttery and lightly oaky but not overwrought ― beautifully balanced.

Red

Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir 1997 (Napa Valley), $23. Earthy, smoky, and supple.

Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1995 (France), $43. Concentrated, earthy, meaty, and peppery.

Cline Live Oak Vineyard Zinfandel 1998 (Contra Costa County), $28. A delicious deep, brambly Zin.

Stags Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 (Napa Valley), $35. Concentrated and structured, with powerful cassis flavors.

Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Porto 1994 (Portugal), $20. A juicy, rich full-flavored port with good structure.

SUNSET'S STEAL OF THE MONTH:  E. Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône 1998, $10, and Denmark's Finest Havarti, $6.39 a pound (both at Safeway). The smoky, spicy, espressolike flavors of this wine from the south of France are delicious juxtaposed against the buttery creaminess of the havarti.

Sunset's Wine Club

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