Terlato portfolio while the cheeses are from Irish producer Kerrygold.
The cheeses are lined up with the suggested pairings, though at any gathering you're going to see a lot of mixing and matching. I took all three cheeses, the Pinot Grigio, and the Beerenauslese to my family Christmas gathering, while I saved the Sancerre to enjoy with two dozen raw oysters. I'm sure it would have been wonderful with the Reserve Cheddar, but I had a craving for Sancerre and shellfish that just had to be satisfied, and it was wonderful.
2011 Terlato Pinot Grigio
Russian River Valley
100% Pinot Grigio
$16, 13.8% abv.
Ripe citrus with a touch of musk, firm acidity, bright on the palate. My sister-in-law loves Pinot Grigio and enjoyed this one, while I enjoyed the complexity--there's a lot of boring Pinot Grigio out there, and this one definitely held my interest.
2012 Château de Sancerre Blanc
Sancerre AOC, France
100% Sauvignon Blanc
$29, 13% abv.
This one opened up with very gentle grapefruit aromas, hints of bright citrus peel flavors, and a few floral undertones. Great minerality and a lingering finish. The salty oysters only amplified the enjoyment of the wine, and it reminded me how long it had been since trying a Sancerre. Highly recommended.
2010 Kracher Beerenauslese Cuvée
60% Chardonnay, 40% Welschriesling
$35/375mL, 12% abv.
Classic botrytis aromas of Honeysuckle and lemon, with dark honey flavors. Sweet but not cloying, with very firm acidity. It does not cling to the glass but works out quite well as a dessert wine. It's an interesting blend of grapes when you think about the more common Riesling, Sauternes, and Tokaji implementations.
And now for the cheeses! These are all in the cheddar family but were a lot of fun to nibble on with the wines. With wide distribution, these should be fairly easy to find throughout the United States.
Red Leicester is a traditional English style that is colored with annatto extract like cheddar, but made in a little more crumbly form. I like it with a little summer sausage on the side.
The Reserve Cheddar has been a family favorite for a while. White with crunchy calcium lactate crystals, it has a rich flavor and a fascinating texture.
Our last cheese, and a beautiful pairing with the Kracher, was the Aged Cheddar with Irish Whiskey. It's much softer than the others, almost like a blended Stilton. The Irish Whiskey is barely present, meaning that it enhances the flavor of the cheese without being overwhelming. It was my favorite of the three, and definitely worth checking out.
Note: These wines were provided as samples.