Port and cheese is one of the best food and wine combinations, but what makes them a perfect match? To find out we joined a select few at Paxton & Whitfield’s iconic shop in Jermyn Street to feast our palate on tasty artisan cheeses with a range of delectable Ports from Taylor’s.
Presenting the tasting was journalist, author and broadcaster, Jane Parkinson, alongside expert cheesemonger, Hero Hirsh, from Paxton & Whitfield. They both offered their top tips for choosing the right Port for the festive cheeseboard and share interesting anecdotes about the enduring marriage of cheese and Port.
First a young, fruity Port called Taylor’s First Estate was matched with a goat’s cheese called Sinodun Hill made by Norton and Yarrow Cheese based in Oxfordshire. First Estate is a richly concentrated Port crammed with blackcurrant, plum and liquorice flavours. A citric tang and nuttiness in the cheese combined magnificently with the luscious, firm tannic structure of Taylor’s First Estate finishing with a creamy, restrained finish.
Next up was Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage Port with a creamy Brillat Savarin Affine – a very popular pairing. The soft, creamy texture of the cheese, with its light penicillin white coat, worked brilliantly with the succulent, red berry fruit in Taylor’s First Estate and its delicate chocolate notes. Sweet, luscious flavours in the Port cut through the chalky sourness of the cheese rind making it one of the best combinations in the line-up.
Two amber coloured Tawny Ports were chosen with the next cheese pairings. A 10 Year Old Tawny from Paxton’s was matched with a nutty Cave-Aged Cheddar matured in Somerset. The fruity, nutty notes in the cheese brought out the luscious fruit and Christmas spice in the Tawny.
A Gruyère Reserve from Switzerland found its perfect partner with a Taylor’s 20 Year Old Tawny. The salty fruity notes of the cheese with its lactic aftertaste proved to be an exotic partner to the complex, spicy, nutty flavoured Tawny and complemented its opulent fruit palate.A Single Quinta (single estate) 2002 Vintage Port from Taylor’s flagship vineyard, Vargellas, worked well with the fudge, salty sweet flavours of Mimolette, a cheese made in Northern France. With a hint of violets and warm plum and cherry jam flavours, this Port and cheese combination was an exciting palate pairing.
One of the great classic matches, which has stood the passage of time, are Vintage Port and Stilton. Here a creamy yellow Stilton produced by Cropwell Bishop Creamery in Nottinghamshire was matched with Paxton’s 2000 Vintage Port. The soft buttery texture, mellow character and piquancy of the cheese teased the ripe powerful flavours in the Vintage Port and worked beautifully with its rich fruity core.
Paxton & Whitfield (93 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6JE)
TAYLOR’S PORT STOCKISTS
Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port £13.29 Waitrose
Taylor’s First Estate £12 Sainsbury’s, Tesco
Taylor’s 2010/11 Late Bottled Vintage Port £15 Tesco, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s
Paxton’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port £19
Taylor’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port £34.24 Thedrinkshop.com
Taylor’s 2002 Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port £30 Waitrose
Paxton’s 2000 Vintage Port £32