Brebis and Bordeaux – the traditional pairing

What’s the connection you may ask between the ewe’s milk cheese made in the Pyrenees mountains and Bordeaux? (and it goes without saying of course the sweet milk fed lamb speciality of the Medoc region around Pauillac marry superbly with the fruity red rich wines of Bordeaux)

Traditionally in the winter when grass is covered by snow in the mountains, sheep would be herded through the villages to the vineyards in the South West including armagnac to Bordeaux. It is called transhumance (moving livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle, typically to lowlands in winter and highlands in summer).

brebis

 

The sheep are wonderful grass grazers and would keep the grass in between and under the vines short during the winter months which saved the vine producers a job of mowing (or spraying weedkiller) in the spring. And of course leaving the additional manure behind as natural fertilizer.

brebis sheep1

The Brebis cheese producers were happy for their animals to have grass to eat and would thank the vine growers traditionally by giving them a Brebis cheese or two.

For the first time this year in February I saw sheep in the vineyards of the Medoc at Château Palmer in Margaux and wondered if it was transhumance or the local appellation of sheep, ‘l’agneau de Pauillac’ – milk fed lambs.

Bordeaux itself is a region traditionally scarce of cheese producers and cheese. Pierre Rollet Gerrard sells hundreds of cheeses (including different ages of Brebis) at the local market of Libourne (and in his shop in the Chartrons in Bordeaux) but there are few cheeses traditionally from Bordeaux.

pierre

Which cheese to marry with Bordeaux’s red wines?

It is the smooth fruity flavours of a well-matured Brebis cheese that marries best with the full-bodied and tannic but elegant red wines of Bordeaux.

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