6 fantastic Devon cheeses and the drinks you must try with them

PUBLISHED: 13:25 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:25 15 June 2020

Cheese and wine from Sharpham. Photo: Nick Hook Photography

Cheese and wine from Sharpham. Photo: Nick Hook Photography

NICKHOOKPHOTO

Six delicious Devon cheese and drinks pairings were tested by Devon Life wine writer Rebecca Mitchell at the recent British Cheese Weekender - here are her findings

Sharpham Ticklemore Goat’s Cheese and Gilt & Flint Organic Pale Ale. Photos: Nick Hook Photograohy and Matt AustinSharpham Ticklemore Goat’s Cheese and Gilt & Flint Organic Pale Ale. Photos: Nick Hook Photograohy and Matt Austin

1. Sharpham Ticklemore Goat’s Cheese - a semi-hard cheese made from goats milk sourced from three local farms near Ashprington. It has a pale cream colour, firm yet crumbly textured and fresh tangy flavour. Awards: Silver at the World Cheese Awards & Silver at Taste of the West Awards 2019.

Paired with: Gilt & Flint Organic Pale Ale (RRP £4.50 per 330ml bottle 4.3% abv) an easy-drinking, modern beer from this organic craft brewhouse in Musbury, East Devon. It has a pale straw colour and abundant aromas of new world hops and citrus notes with a delightful crisp, clean taste balanced by a malty sweetness on the palate and refreshing grapefruit finish.

Verdict: a delightful harmony of flavours with the citrus tang of the pale ale perfectly complimenting the vibrant acidity of the goats cheese.

Sharpham Washbourne and Sharpham Barrel-fermented 2016. Photos: Nick Hook Photography/Sharpham WineSharpham Washbourne and Sharpham Barrel-fermented 2016. Photos: Nick Hook Photography/Sharpham Wine

2. Sharpham Washbourne - the newest cheese in the Sharpham range, an unpressed washed-curd cheese made from ewe’s milk. It has a buttermilk colour, a pliable, close texture and subtle nutty flavour. Awards: UK Supreme Cheese at the Global Cheese Awards, Gold & Best Modern British Cheese in the British Cheese Awards 2019.

Paired with: Sharpham Barrel-fermented 2016 (RRP £17.20 per 750ml bottle 11.6% abv) a rich rounded white made from 100% Madeleine Angevine grapes with aromas of orchard fruit and citrus fruit. It has a silky smooth mouthfeel, medium body and soft acidity with creamy and buttery flavours plus subtle hints of oak and a trace of vanilla spice.

Verdict: A great combination of flavours with the barrel-fermented wine bringing out the creaminess and nuttiness of the Washbourne cheese.

Sharpham Savour and  Sharpham Pinot Noir 2018. Photos: Nick Hook Photography/Sharpham WineSharpham Savour and Sharpham Pinot Noir 2018. Photos: Nick Hook Photography/Sharpham Wine

3. Sharpham Savour - an unpressed, unpasteurised, semi-hard, washed-curd cheese made from a mixture of Jersey cow and goat’s milk. It has a pale cream colour with a close texture and a mellow flavour. Award: Gold at Taste of the West Awards 2019.

Paired with: Sharpham Pinot Noir 2018 (RRP £19.00 per 750ml bottle 11.6% abv) a wonderful summer red with a vibrant pale ruby colour, bursting with soft red fruits on the nose including red cherry, raspberry and violets. It is light bodied with supple tannins and uplifting freshness. Great for Summer drinking!

Verdict: The fruitiness of the Pinot Noir became more apparent when paired with the cheese and the tannins seemed to soften when combined with the saltiness of the cheese, creating a delicious contrast of flavours that worked really well together.

Sharpham ‘Rustic’ Garlic & Chive and  Salcombe Brewery ‘Ocean Cider’. Photos: Nick Hook Photography/Adam WeatherleySharpham ‘Rustic’ Garlic & Chive and Salcombe Brewery ‘Ocean Cider’. Photos: Nick Hook Photography/Adam Weatherley

4. Sharpham ‘Rustic’ Garlic & Chive - a youthful, semi-hard cheese matured for 6-8 weeks with a rich creamy texture and thin natural rind with speckles of green chive and garlic scattered through. Awards: Double Gold at the British Cheese Awards 2019, and Silver at the World Cheese Awards.

Paired with: Salcombe Brewery Ocean Cider (RRP £2.60 per 500ml bottle at 4.5% abv) a very tasty new addition to their range of beers - Ocean Cider is sourced from local Devon cider-apples and bursting with orchard fruit including red apples and medlar. Medium dry with a light sparkle and plenty of great flavour.

Verdict: this was the second favourite pairing of the tasting with the fruitiness of the cider really emphasised by the savoury, herbaceous tang of the garlic and chive. It was a great match!

Quicke’s Mature & Vintage Cheddar and Hattiers Premium Reserve Rum. Photos: Matt Austin and  Rhona McDade of Goodrest StudiosQuicke’s Mature & Vintage Cheddar and Hattiers Premium Reserve Rum. Photos: Matt Austin and Rhona McDade of Goodrest Studios

5. Quicke’s Mature & Vintage Cheddar - this pair of Devon cheddars were both clothbound during maturation for 15 months and 24 months respectively. The Mature has a lovely freshness and element of acidity. Whilst the Vintage certainly has more caramel complexity and wonderful savoury flavours. Awards: Silver and Gold at the World Cheese Awards 2019.

Paired with: Hattiers Premium Reserve Rum (RRP £42.00 per 70cl bottle 40% abv) a stylish rum with a base of 8 year aged Barbados Foursquare rum skilfully blended with single-estate rums from The Dominican Republic, Panama and Guatemala. Golden amber with aromas of caramel, toffee, cacao and clotted cream combined with a light Caribbean spice and vibrant flavours of stone fruit.

Verdict: this was my favourite combination - a match made in Devon! An unexpected marriage between the Vintage cheddar and Hattiers rum which resulted in an explosive union of flavours on the palate. The saltiness of the cheese really brought out the dried stone fruit and spice elements of the rum.

6. Ticklemore Dairy ‘Devon Blue’ is made from Cows milk and has a tangy acidity, delicious creamy yet crumbly texture with an touch of saltiness and lovely blue veining. Award: Silver at the Artisan Cheese Awards 2019.

Paired with: LBW Drinks - Lyme Bay Winery Elderberry and Port Liqueur (RRP £13.29 per 350ml bottle 17% abv) a sweet fruit liqueur with a bright cranberry hue, bursting with juicy ripe elderberries and Ruby Port. The perfect partner for any cheese-board.

Verdict: as expected, this was a super combination of sweet fruity flavours from the liqueur which contrasted brilliantly with the saltiness of the blue cheese. Devon’s answer to Port with Stilton.

These tastings took place at the inaugural British Cheese Weekender - a virtual cheese festival which was the brainchild of the Academy of Cheese - a national organisation set-up to promote cheese knowledge and provide career development, for cheese enthusiasts and those working within the cheese industry. Devon Life drinks columnist Rebecca Mitchell hosted an Instagram Live session with guest speaker Greg Parsons, owner of Sharpham Cheese. The aim was to find the ultimate cheese and drinks pairing - a match made in Devon!

The cheesemakers featured:

Sharpham Cheese Dairy . Situated in Ashprington, near Totnes, the Sharpham Estate has been producing award-winning wines and cheeses for over 35 years since Maurice Ash first started cheese-making here. This picturesque estate on the banks of the River Dart includes a Grade 1-listed paladian-style house and grounds set in 500 acres of mixed farmland including a vineyard, woodland and pasture for their herd of Jersey cows. The dairy recently won the coveted accolade of British Product of the Year at the Great British Food Awards 2019 for their Sharpham Cremet - a soft, mould-ripened cheese enriched with cream. Greg Parsons acquired Sharpham Cheese Dairy in 2018.

Quicke’s Cheddar . Mary Quicke is the 14th generation to own the farm in the fertile Creedy Valley near Crediton, which has been in her family since 1537. Her mother built the cheese dairy in 1973. Their artisan cheddar is made with love using milk from their herd of premium grass-grazed cows including Fresian, Kiwi Holstein, Scandinavian Red, Brown Swiss, Montbeliarde and Jersey cows. Mary prides herself on the award-winning quality of their clothbound cheddars made using heritage starter cultures and nurtured with love.

Ticklemore Cheese Dairy . Located near Totnes it is owned by Robin Congdon, who went into partnership with Maurice Ash, once connected with the Dartington Hall Estate and who later took over the Sharpham Estate. Robin’s passion for cheese-making grew and he soon developed Beenleigh Blue, Harbourne Blue both of which are made from ewe’s milk and Devon Blue made from cows’ milk. Ticklemore Goat and Devon Rustic are now made by Sharpham Dairy to keep the white mould cheeses separate from the blue moulds.

Why not tuck into a delicious Devon cheeseboard during lockdown? Sharpham Cheese is collaborating with Quickes Cheddar and Ticklemore Cheese Dairy to offer a combined cheese box called The Essential Devon Cheeseboard (RRP £20 per 1.5kg box) - a selection of 6 Devon cheeses according to the graders choice, includes 2x Sharpham cheeses, 2x Quickes cheeses and 1x Ticklemore Cheese.

Love cheese? Then you’ll want to learn all about cheese via a course with the Academy of Cheese . Discover different production methods, learn the art of cheese-making and how to taste cheese like a pro (don’t cut the nose off!) They offer classroom and online courses for cheese lovers who want to learn more and also professionals who wish to embark on a cheese-making career. Go on, release your passion for cheese!

Next time you have a cheese-board, experiment with different flavour combinations. Don’t just reach for wine with your Devon cheese, try matching other local drinks such as beer, cider, wine or spirits. Take your taste-buds on a voyage of discovery - learn the art of food and drinks pairing with WSET Wine & Spirits Educator Rebecca Mitchell .

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