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Doux de Montagne and St. Francis Merlot

I picked up some Doux de Montagne from Whole Foods in Coral Gables. The name of the cheese was Doux de Montagne Brebis Pyrenees, but the ingredients list indicated that it was actually a cow cheese. The term “Brebis” refers to sheep, so I suspect that this was a mis-label.

This is a industrial, semi-soft cheese with a very mild flavor, made in the Monts du Velay region of France. The texture is similar to a cream cheese, but more gelatinous. The aroma is grassy, faintly nutty, and rather mild. It melts in your mouth, with a slight buttery taste, with some straw, pecan, and herbal notes, topped off with a little sour milk. It’s an innocuous cheese that would be quite nice at a party with a preponderance of non-cheese people. I’ve enjoyed it, because there is a subtlety to the flavor that’s nice.

Surprisingly, it paired very nicely with a St. Francis Merlot. The particular bottle we had was a Sonoma County 2005, with Cherry, dark chocolate, spices, a touch of licorice, and faint herbal notes on the nose. On the palate, it’s a little smoky and spicy, with dark berries, earthy notes, some cigar box, and a medium finish. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged for 23 months in French and American oak. It was bottled in 2008, and according to their website, has an aging potential of 5 – 8 years.

In pairing the two, the flavors of the cheese became much more intense, creamy and herbal, and the finish of the two became much longer, creamy, and slightly bitter. It was a nice combination. St. Francis Merlot is widely available at wine shops and finer grocers. The bottle I tasted came from Publix.

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