The ancient art of cheesemaking predates recorded history. In fact, legend has it that it was introduced to ancient Greece before wine was, by the Greek god Aristaios. Speaking of wine, our preferred pairing is a crisp sauvignon blanc but, depending on the strength of the cheese, a rosy pinot noir or purply-red cabernet sauvignon could work just as well. In addition to the numerous well-established cheeseries dotted around the country, we’ve selected some boutique and artisanal cheese-makers, who are churning out delicious wheels. And we asked Michael Bampfield-Duggan of Wine Concepts to pair each one with a wine. So, to all you budding turophiles (look it up!), grab a glass of vino, and join us on a cheesy tour of SA.
1. Fairview Blue Rock
Taste A firm, full-flavoured, Roquefort-style blue-veined cheese with a creamy texture and sharp bite, produced by the mould interacting with the fats to create that traditional “blue cheese” flavour.
Made in Paarl.
It’s delicious in a four-cheese pasta sauce or on a cheeseboard. For a stunning display, use a large black slate tile and write the names of the cheeses in white chalk.
Wine pairing Noble Late Harvest or Joostenberg Chenin Blanc
2. Klein River Gruyère
Taste Slightly grainy texture with a strong tangy taste and a wonderful complexity of flavours – fruity at first, with earthy, nutty characteristics that linger afterwards.
Made in Stanford.
It’s delicious sprinkled over salads or pastas, in quiches or savoury tarts, and is also a popular fondu choice.
Wine pairing Vondeling Erica Shiraz
3. Woolworths Duetto
Taste This delicate semi-soft and creamy mascarpone is interlayered with preserved figs and pecan nuts.
It’s delicious on a thick slice of toasted ciabatta, topped with a green fig preserve, says TASTE’s food editor Abigail Donnelly.
Wine pairing Howard Booysen Riesling (Rhine), or Woolworths Prosecco, says Abigail
4. Ganzvlei Cheddar
Taste A slightly grainy, very strong Cheddar with a lingering bite
Made in Knysna.
It’s delicious with something sweet (to balance the strong flavours), such as caramelised pears or chilli-tomato jam and plain crackers. It could also work on a cheese burger a grown-up Mac ‘n’ Cheese, if you will…
Wine pairing Doran Pinotage (to balance the strong flavours)
5. Langbaken Karoo Crumble
Taste A mature hard cheese with a dry crumbly texture, tangy bite and a slightly fruity aftertaste.
Made in Williston, Northern Cape.
It’s delicious in a cheese sauce over cauliflower, to flavour broccoli soup, or as part of a cheeseboard with preserved fruits and nuts.
Wine pairing Ken Forrester Petit Chenin
6. Van Gaalen Boerenkaas
Taste This two-month matured Gouda-style cheese is soft, sweeter than Cheddar, and made from cow’s milk.
Made in Skeerpoort, North West Province.
It’s delicious on sandwiches, pizzas and lasagnes, as it’s a good melting cheese.
Wine pairing Anura Sangiovese.
7. Le Petite France Camembert
Taste A rich and creamy hand-crafted cheese made from Jersey milk, it is his hormone-, additive- and chemical-free.
Made in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal.
It’s delicious with ripe figs and nuts as a Banting (Tim Noakes) dessert.
Cost R42/wheel (280 – 290g)
Wine pairing Glen Carlou (unwooded) Chardonnay.
8. Dalewood Fromage Huguenot
Taste A semi-hard brushed-rind cheese with an intense flavour and nutty nuances
Made in Simondium, Western Cape.
It’s delicious as a Tim Noakes-esque snack, in potato gratin, or on a party cheeseboard.
Wine pairing Blaauwklippen Zinfandel
9. Simonsberg Mature Gouda
Taste Tangy, tasty and firm.
Made in Stellenbosch.
It’s delicious in lunch boxes, with cheese scones, on a cheeseboard and for 5 o’clock-snacking.
Insider tip Their factory shop in Stellenbosch stocks a wide range including cambrini and feta at excellent prices.
Wine pairing The High Road Classique (a Bordeaux-style red blend)
10. Cremalat Fresh Asiago
Taste A fresh and creamy, slightly spicy light-coloured cheese.
Made in Johannesburg.
It’s delicious in a croque-monsieur or -madame, or in a potato gratin.
Wine pairing Usana Pinot Gris
11. Cremalat Gorgonzola
Taste This rich and creamy light blue-veined cheese’s nose is stronger than its bite.
Made in Johannesburg.
It’s delicious ladled on crackers, or with Gruyère in a soufflé-with-a-difference.
Wine pairing Nederburg Special Late Harvest.
Now that you have all your cheeses in a row, head to the SA Cheese Festival and stock up on some tasty fromages.
Wine suggestions: courtesy of Michael Bampfield-Duggan of Wine Concepts.