Formaggio - France vs. Italy!

France or Italy? Which has better wine and cheese pairings? I walked into the Formaggio classroom assuming I would pick mostly French pairings, but it was a very tough competition.

France started the night off strong, with Valençay Frais, a goat's milk cheese from Pays de la Loire, France, served with Lo Brusc Miel Lavande Fine from Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France. This paired amazingly well with the 2011 Gilbert Picq et Fils Chablis from Bourgogne, France.

Italy came out swinging as well, with the wonderful Robiola Cevrin al Pepe, a goat's milk cheese from Piedmont, Italy, served with Floriano Wild Rhododendron Honey from Elva, Piedmont, Italy. This was paired with Poderi Cellario Favorita, also from Piedmont, Italy. This was a tough round, but I went with Italy.

Caprotto, a goat's milk cheese from Campania, Italy, started off the next round. It was served with Fieschi Confettura di Zucci e Zenzero from Cremona, Piedmont, Italy, and Paterna Bianco "il terraio" from Tuscany, Italy.

The excellent Brillat Savarin, a cow's milk cheese from Île de France, France, was up next. The triple-crème cheese was served with Arraya Confiture de Abricot from Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France, and a 2012 Domaine Pichot Vouvray from Val de la Loire, France. This definitely won round two for me!

Brebis Abbaye de Belloc, a sheep's milk cheese from Aquitaine, France, is amazing. Here it was served with Rosette de Lyon from Lyon, France, and Moutarde a l'Ancienne from Bourgogne, France. It was served with a very well-paired wine, the 2010 Domaine Depeuble Beaujolais from Bourgogne, France.

A strong response to that plate is Italy's Pecorino Calcagno, from Sardinia, Italy. It's made from sheep's milk cheese, and is served here with some deliciously well-balanced condiments- Salumiera Biellese Finocchiona from Bronx, New York, and La Vecchia Dispensa "Condimento" al Aceto Balsamico from Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. This was another tough round, but I wound up voting for France.

Italy went first in the final round, with the sweet Gorgonzola Dolce from Lombary, Italy, served with Luca Bonizzoni Rivere Ligure Honey from Liguria, Italy. Digestivo Cardamaro from Piedmont, Italy, was served alongside the Gorgonzola, to help our stomachs settle after all of this wonderful cheese.

France finished out the night with another pairing that received my vote - Roquefort Vieux Berger from Midi-Pyrénées, France, served with Pruneaux d'Agen from Bordeaux, France. This paired incredibly well with the 2008 Chateau la Peyre Haut Medoc from Bordeaux, France. It was a tough competition, but France won for me!


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