Adoro Mourvèdre – Is This The One Wine to Rule All Cheeses?
What a novel way to launch a wine – a group of lifestyle bloggers, food writers and wine and cheese merchants brought together on a beautiful Jozi morning to Taste ‘n Tweet as they’re introduced to a new wine from boutique estate Adoro.
The Adoro Mourvèdre is the wine, Ian Naudé is the winemaker, La Marina Foods provide the cheese, Erica Meles of Erica Meles PR is the lady managing the event together with Ian’s assistant Lene, and the stylish 10 Bompas Road Hotel is the venue.
In truth a natural wine to pair cheese is a near impossibility. Textures clash, or tannins and acidity overwhelming the cheese – or the reverse. This quandary led the head-sommelier at an exclusive millionaires restaurant in Belgravia, London to challenge winemaker Ian Naudé to “make something that works”. He wanted a wine that was neither fortified nor overly dry or sweet. And Ian’s telling of the story makes for a very amusing introduction to the mornings’ proceedings.
Ian chose Mourvèdre for its flavourful, elegant fruit, robust enough to retain its flavour irrespective of harvest date; with ripeness resulting in a “huge concentration” of berry and cherry notes. He chose the Swartland area whose climate, he says, is the twin to Spain – the cultivar’s point of origin.
The wine is made in a natural style, with balanced fruit and acidity. Off-sweet on the entry, with a full middle palate to match the weight of a richer, heavier cheese; fresh acidity to cut through creamy, oozy cheese – or provide balance to a hard or milder variety; the wine presents a pair to “just about anything,” Ian says, other than smoked cheese, which he’s found “doesn’t work”. The off-sweet profile also works with a sweet dessert – and “not just cheesecake,” as Ian points out.
Here are the wines’ vitals:
Adoro Natural Sweet Mourvèdre 2009
- Compostion: Mourvèdre 100%
- Alcohol: 13.5%
- Residual Sugar: 55g/l
- Total Acidity: 8g/l
- Winemaker’s Notes: Grapes are sourced from Swartland, an area known for intense heat; enabling fruit to reach optimal ripeness, resulting in rich and full-bodied wines. This natural sweet red wine was produced to complement cheese, though its off-sweet profile can be enjoyed any time. It’s an excellent alternative to port and fortified wines when paired with dessert.
- Rec. Retail Price: R110.00
The four cheeses were selected for the tasting to showcase the ability of the wine to pair with a variety of cheese flavours and textures.
Supplied by La Marina Foods, Ed and Kirsten are there to introduce us to the cheeses:
- Gouda: aged for 6 months, this is a traditional hard cheese, made from pasteurised cows milk, with sweet flavours that intensify with age.
- Camembert: made from Jersey cows milk and cream with a dash of goats milk, the cheese was produced following a traditional French method and aged for 4 weeks.
- Asiago: a semi-soft cows milk cheese imported from Veneto in Italy, where it carries D.O.P. status, the cheese is aged for 12 – 14 months.
- Gorgonzola: also imported from Italy, this time from the Lombardia region, the soft and creamy cheese is a traditional blue made from cows milk and aged for 6-8 months.
The first impression of the wine comes on the nose. The scent is thick, almost port-like, that high natural sweetness coming through clearly. The first taste of the wine is big. The sugars are obvious but not to the point of being overly syrupy. The concentrated fruit is huge, delicious, a real tongue roller of a wine as I try to capture as much of the flavour as possible. The acid and alcohol come through closely behind the sweetness, bringing a full flavoured roundness to the wine.
Despite the fact that we’re here to marry it to cheese, it’s an obvious dessert wine too. Chocolate soufflé and a glass of this – I’m already thinking that I’ll be having seconds as well. It’s a great combination of flavours. I find myself with a near empty taster glass before I’ve even touched the cheese.
Someone comments – not sure of the origin – that the Mourvèdre “smells like port but tastes like wine”. It’s an apt description. The taste is marvellous and lingering. Oh, does it linger!
So, to the wine with the cheeses.
Gouda goes first. It’s good. Not great but not terrible. The sweet milk cheese is comfortable with the fruity wine flavours, but perhaps the Gouda needs a little more maturity and age before they play nicer together.
Then onto the Camembert. The cheese has softened in the few short minutes that it has been out and is oozing lava-like from its casing – perfect! Sadly, with the wine it is delicious without being triumphant. The creamy notes from the cheese linger after the wine, but there’s a hint of nuttiness left on my palate. Not an awe inspiring match, but certainly not an offensive one either.
Third of the cheeses to consider is a delicious Asiago. The cheese itself is my favourite on the platter – aromatic, rich, hints of tanginess and salt. I’m loving it enough to steal an extra piece off Kevins’ board whilst he’s not watching. With the wine it is fantastic. Very complex flavour combinations going on in there. Without a doubt the best of the three so far. In fact, I almost declare it the hands-down winner before I taste the Gorgonzola. I’m glad I don’t.
They kept the best for last it seems. The strong, well aged imported Italian blue is the one. Without hesitation, the Asiago thoughts are purged. The Gorgonzola is a delicious variety with good strength and character. The robust sweet wine envelopes its’ flavours with grace and ease. The richness of the combination is fantastic. Cindy says it best: “I’m having an orgasm in my mouth”!
A rough show-of-hands poll at the end suggests that the bulk of the group agree that the Mourvèdre-Gorgonzola coupling is the best, with the Asiago taking the runner-up slot.
What is obviously evident as well though, is that Ian Naudé has managed to meet the challenge of the London-based sommelier. Whilst the Gorgonzola and Asiago are clear favourites, no-one mentions any negatives about the other combinations. They’re not standouts, but they are definitely also compatible with the wine.
It seems that yes, perhaps the Adoro Mourvèdre is indeed the wine to rule all cheeses.
After the official proceedings, we also had an opportunity to informally taste some of the other Adoro – Naudé wines, and the verdict on them is all round goodness as well.
The Tasting Tweeters
The tasters were an interesting group of people representing a range of publications both on- and off-line: I’m there to represent The BlaBla Blog (naturally!) , we have Cindy from The Only Cin, Kevin from Voted!, Alida from Simply Delicious, Joseph from Commentary Dot Za, Ingrid, Avocado Magazine, Helen from Longevity Magazine and her colleague who tweeted for Longevity Magazine, and Baglett of self-titled blog fame (who arrived a little late, but caught up quickly enough!) Also in attendance were retired wine master Bill Cooper-Williams, an optometrist who was there because “he loves wine”, and a couple of Pretoria-based wine merchants.
(My apologies if I missed your name or details during the introductions – they happened while I was still fiddling with the Wi-Fi connection. Drop me a comment with the details and I’ll gladly add you and any links to the list…)
Here is the Twitter Steam from the #adorocheesewine tag that we used (and a link to the full stream if you want to see more):
[~ Eds note: This is an unsolicited and independent review. Neither the writer nor The BlaBla Blog received any material benefit through it. (Although we wouldn’t say no if Adoro offer to sponsor a couple of bottles for us to use as giveaways!?) ~]