Cheese with that Wine: 2010 Zagarron, "Sandogal" Organic AirénAirén
To the more puritan minded folks in the audience may I remind you of the words of Napoleon Bonaparte who once said, "put a rogue in the limelight and he will act like an honest man." While none of that may have anything to do with wine and cheese pairing, it is a fun way to introduce the topic at hand.
What topic is that? Well of course finding a great bottle of wine that pairs most wonderfully with semi-hard aged cheeses like Jarlsberg. Finding the right combination of acidity and fruit is what I would call the perfect pairing partner. A wine that will maximize the flavor profile of the cheese and quench your thirst at the same time.
If this is the kind of wine you've been looking for, then stick around I think I've found a wine that does all that and more. It's called Airen, a wine with noticeable acidic streak. A wine that is could be considered one the most woefully misunderstood and under-appreciated grapes from Spain's most abundant grape growing region, called La Mancha.Once known as a place for making bulk wines, some winemakers there have taken a different direction for the better.
I've found in Airén what I believe is the perfect combination of acid and flavors that makes semi-hard aged cheese's like the Jarlsberg really sing. The wine is not pronounced Aaron or Erin [like the three Erin's that are my new editors over at SD Mag], but instead it sounds more like saying the tool some of us use [not talking to the rag-bags in the audience] to straighten out wrinkled clothing called, iron or more like Iren.
I recently had the good fortune to give this wine a swirl and I was very much unsatisfied with its stand-alone flavor profile of high acid, sour apples, raw almonds and lots of floral aromas and flavors. Arrgh it was honestly just awful, but like I've have said many times and it bears repeating once more, "sometimes a wine is better than the sum of its parts, when it's paired with the correct food item."
Thus is the case with this wine, which is why I'm excited to tell you about the Zagarron, Sandogal Organic Arien. The bad new , unfortunately the one I sampled is not available state-side, but there are some great examples of the wine available here in the states and I would recommend giving them a swirl.
Okay, now where to get it outside of La Mancha in Spain, for you San Diego residents you can occasionally pick up this wine at the Bacchus Wine Market a haven for hard to find Spanish wines. You'll find this wine to be very inexpensive and like a I've said before a great pairing partner with semi-hard aged cheeses like the Jarlsberg from our friends in Norway.
Folks who are on their own and want to enjoy this combination over a few nights, just grab one of those vacu-vin, that come with the insert [plug]. Keeps out the air, enabling you to enjoy an opened bottle over a few days. I hope you will give this wine a swirl and for those keeping score you can cross this varietal off your grape bucket-list. But remember on its own, you will find it's more a like a cheap date or like the guy who still lives with his mother. Neither are very flattering or appealing upon approach, but mixed with a little aging and fermented cow's milk anything is possible. Until next time sip long and prosper cheers!
Photo credit: EatonAlive Productions and this bottle was a Press Sample sent for the review process.