Mbali Chenin Blanc/Viognier and Herbed Goat Cheese
When we last visited Trader Joe’s we saw this white blend from South Africa. Since we haven’t had many South African wines, we figured we’d give it a try. The salesperson said it would be a good wine to enjoy in the Florida sunshine. Not being familiar with these varietals, we googled what type of cheese would work, and chose herbed goat cheese. Let’s see if we made the right choice?
The Mbali wine was made of Chenin Blanc (79%) and Viognier (21%). New to Chenin Blanc? We were, check out this article by Wine Folly to become more familiar with this grape. I anxiously swirled the wine to determine the aromas and found honey, springtime, grass and flowers reminding me of a meadow and then a pungent aroma like gasoline. Disclaimer: We were working on the house so that last one might have come from one of the cleaners we used that day. Neil liked it! He said it was crisp like Sauvignon Blanc but also had aromas of honey and vanilla.
I noticed the color of the wine was a light yellow. The flavors were tart, crisp apple, soft oak, and lime reminding me more of a Chardonnay. The texture of the wine seemed to have a slight fizz to it. Neil found the wine to be crisp and have the tropical fruit flavors of pineapple and mango then the flavor pleasantly slid into butterscotch. I wondered if we were drinking the same wine?
When we opened the cheese, we saw that it was flavored with garlic and herbs. We were definitely unsure how a tropical wine would pair with garlic but before that, the cheese tasting notes. As I smelled the cheese, I identified the aroma of italian seasoning, mozzarella sticks and milk. This reminded me of the cheese we had when we did that pairing with my brother, http://wineandcheesefriday.com/chardonnay-and-marinated-cheese/. Neil thought the cheese smelled like fresh bruschetta and garlic bread. I don’t know about you but I’m getting hungry! Well at least we have this cheese to eat 😃
The texture was gritty from the herbs and creamy. The flavors were split but balanced between the goat cheese and the herbs. The herbs danced on Neil’s tongue and I noticed the the tart goats milk on the roof of my mouth. We were both happy that the garlic wasn’t overpowering. Neil likes the coarse herbs/seasoning, but Maria doesn’t like feeling them on her tongue. Neil found this to be a tasty cheese which I agree with but I think I’d prefer the seasoning to be more finely ground.
So what do you think would this wine pair well this this cheese? Neil noticed the cheese became creamier. The wine switched from being mostly tropical fruit with some oak to being an oaky wine with some tropical fruit. He felt this wine stood up to the flavorful cheese! This pairing was interesting because the wine and cheese changed but he’d prefer them separately. I had a different reaction but that is usually how it goes with us! The wine became tropical for me now with the aroma of guava, a softer texture on my tongue, and flavors of pineapple and lime. The cheese was also much milder and I could hardly taste the herbs instead there was more goat cheese flavor. The flavor of the herbs came back in the finish. I’m sure you can tell, I liked the wine better now.
The verdict: We both like the wine when it has the tropical fruit flavors and aromas, we just needed to find them in different ways.
I think this was a fun pairing since we both found such a noticeable difference between the wine and cheese paired and separately. Always a good time when you get those pairings that change! It even made Neil think of Greek food from the flavor combination. Thanks to Wine Folly for suggesting it!