When we think of cheese, it’s the great cow’s milk cheeses that spring to mind – brie, cheddar, gouda, gruyere and parmigiano reggiano to name a few. However, there are plenty of places with hot, arid climates and steep, rocky topography totally unsuited to raising cattle. With that in mind, let’s explore some Australian cheeses made with sheep, goat and buffalo milk.
Grilled fig, vincotta, walnut and roquette salad with Udder Delights Goats Curd + 2019 Unico Zelo Esoterico, Riverland and Clare Valley, A$23
Udder Delights produces a fantastic fresh goat curd with a creamy richness, granular texture, sweet lactic flavours and typical acidity. It’s a perfect snack with beetroot relish or char-grilled capsicum and equally useful with a warm beetroot salad or figs. The Esoterico is made with a quintet of aromatic white grapes that have been fermented on their skins. It lives up to its name.
Loire-style warm salad with Holy Goat Skyla, walnuts and curly endive + 2019 LAS Vino CBDB Chenin Blanc, Margaret River, A$64
Holy Goat La Luna is my top Australian cheese, however, the La Luna Ring is big and expensive. Skyla is the mini form with the same crinkly white mould skin and sweet citrus flavours. It’s wonderful, gently grilled, in this salad. The French would serve a chenin blanc under the Vouvray banner, however, sticking with the Aussie theme, Nic Peterkin’s CBDB is a marvellous funky and fun take on the variety.
Ottolenghi Baked Mint Rice with Meredith Marinated Goats Cheese + 2019 Usher Tinkler Nose To Tail Rosé,
Hunter Valley, A$27
Ottolenghi is almost part of our family, and this recipe is now our 15-year-old daughter’s signature dish. It calls for crumbed feta but she uses the excellent Meredith Marinated Goat Cheese, drizzling its flavour-laden oil over the finished dish. She’s too young for a wine but Usher Tinkler’s exotic mash-up of shiraz and merlot proved just the ticket for the adults.
Pecora Yarrawa + 2018 Tertini Private Cellar Corvina, Hilltops, A$38
Pecora’s sheep’s milk Yarrawa pairs well with a soft yet flavoursome red, especially one with savoury overtones such as the Veneto grape, corvina. Here it’s made by Southern Highlands winemaker Jonathan Holgate, who sourced the grapes from the Hilltops region. The tang of the sheep’s milk cheese and gentle tannin grip of the corvina bring the match to life.
Grandvewe Brebichon + 2019 Stoney Rise Pinot Noir, Tasmania, A$29
The Grandvewe farm is at Birchs Bay south of Hobart opposite Bruny Island. Brebichon is a sheep’s milk washed-rind cheese made in the style of the French Alpine cheese, Reblochon. A Tassie pinot is the ideal wine for this stinky cheese with its slightly astringent edge. Joe Holyman’s value-packed Stoney Rise is just the ticket, with its raspberry and cranberry flavours and modest tannin profile.
Home-made pizza Margherita with Shaw River Buffalo Mozzarella + 2018 Pizzini Nonna Gisella Sangiovese,
King Valley, A$23
Pizza is a family affair with my wife in charge of the dough, I prep the toppings and Greta directs proceedings. Her favourite is margherita on a wafer-thin base with a smear of passata and hand-torn mozzarella. Shaw River’s version is creamy and appropriately stringy, melting to an unctuous goo. The wine? A sangiovese is my pick, its savoury flavour profile and modest tannins work well with the other (salami-laden) pizzas, too. The Nonna Gisella is the lower rung on the Pizzini’s sangiovese ladder – that said, it’s perfect with pizza.
A modest tannin profile makes for an excellent match with a strongly flavoured cheese.