Cattier Champagne and the British Cheese Board have combined forces to bring this this perfect pairing to the public, and we went along to try a few of the suggestions.
You'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't agree that wine and cheese make a very fine match - even those with lactose or grape intolerances would probably begrudgingly admit it. Champagne and cheese, on the other hand, are rarely combined.
When you think about it, they actually make a very natural pairing - both are traditional products made from simple and natural ingredients, and are fermented and aged through very specific processes. In contrast to heavy red wine which is generally considered to be the ultimate cheese-friendly libation, the low acidity and lightness of champagne balances the richness, saltiness and fat content of cheese. It also makes a great pairing for drinks parties and Christmas celebrations.
As with wine and cheese however, not all combinations are created equal...so we joined the British Cheese Board and Cattier Champagne to try a few of their suggestions.
Cattier is one of the only family-run premium champagne houses left in France, and is currently overseen by the tenth generation of the family. Located in Chigny-les-Rosiers, near Reims, they produce 1 million bottles a year, with 19 products across 5 categories.
Established in 1995, the British Cheese Board is dedicated to educating the British public about the 700+ named cheeses produced in the UK. Despite having hundreds of great small producers, the 50 largest cheese brands currently make up 95% of the market, so it's up to organisations like the BCB to help spread the word about artisan cheese.
In Britain over 98% of households eat cheese, with an average consumption of 10kg per person, per year. This pales in comparison to the rest of Europe though, with France (naturally) in the lead with 25.9 kg, and even Finland and Lithuania get through more of the smelly stuff than us.
Cattier Brut Antique Cru
with Capricorn Goat's Milk Cheese
The Capricorn Goats Cheese was oozy and tangy, which matched well with the gentle yet robust Cattier Brut Antique Cru. Goats cheese is a great one to match with champagne, but both have to have a bit of a 'kick' otherwise the cheese dominates completely.
Cattier Blanc de Noirs
with Davistow 3 year old Cheddar
The Davidstow 3 year old Cheddar is the longest matured cheddar available in the UK, with a sweet, nutty flavour. The dryness of the Cattier Blanc de Noirs made it a good pairing, and it would be ideal as an introduction to cheese and champagne together.
Cattier Brut Vinotheque 2007
with Sussex Charmer
The Sussex charmer is like a cross between cheddar and parmesan, and has been matured for 12 months. The sharp flavour of the cheese matched perfectly with the dry, fruity Cattier Brut Vinotheque.
Cattier Clos du Moulin
with Tasty Lancashire
This champagne was almost unanimously the favourite, with a delicate taste from three different vintage blends. The cheese was bland so made no match for the champagne, although it's been voted as the best choice for cheese on toast!
Cattier Glamour Rose
with Blue Stilton
Rose, and rose champagne in particular, is typically seen as a feminine drink but has started to grow in popularity. By pairing it with a strong blue cheese, the sweetness of the champagne compliments the saltiness of the cheese, and makes the Rose seem generally more robust.
Cattier Brut Antique Rose
with Shropshire Red
The Shropshire red had a slight crunch due to the calcium lactate crystals, which contrasted with the smooth rose champagne. The combination wasn't particularly complimentary though, and a blue cheese would probably have worked better.
To find out more about the British Cheese Board, check out their website.