Indulge yourself in the best of Norfolk cheese and wine

PUBLISHED: 06:30 01 August 2020

July saw National Cheese and Wine Day. Photo: Cathal McNaughton/PA Wire

July saw National Cheese and Wine Day. Photo: Cathal McNaughton/PA Wire


Of all the celebrations of food and wine that take place each year, one of the best surely has to be National Wine and Cheese day - particularly since Norfolk has both of these delicious treats in plentiful supply. It’s easy to put together a fantastic cheese and wine pairing without having to leave the county, and here are some of our favourite combinations.

Winbirri's 2019 Bacchus. Photo: Ashley Carter ImagesWinbirri's 2019 Bacchus. Photo: Ashley Carter Images

• Winbirri Bacchus 2019 and Norfolk Mardler

Winbirri, in Surlingham, made history with the 2015 vintage of its white Bacchus, which became the first ever still English wine to win the coveted ‘Best Single Varietal White Wine in the World’ at the eminent Decanter World Wine Awards.

Bacchus is the UK’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc, and the just-released Winbirri 2019 shows a lovely aromatic profile with notes of grapefruit, citrus and white blossom and energetic acidity.

Vines alongside trees and hedgerows at Chet and Waveney Valley Vineyard. Picture: Chris HillVines alongside trees and hedgerows at Chet and Waveney Valley Vineyard. Picture: Chris Hill

This bright, refreshing wine is a match made in heaven for goat’s cheese – pairing wine with this unctuous style of cheese can seem like a challenge, but as a simple rule any fresh, unoaked white or rosé does the job nicely.

The wine’s acid and crisp fruit character cuts through this creamy, pungent cheese beautifully. The Winbirri Bacchus will sit very happily next to a generous wedge of Norfolk Mardler, a pasteurised goat’s cheese from Fielding Cottage near Honingham.

To ‘mardle’ is Norfolk dialect for having a chat, and this perfect pairing is guaranteed to get all tongues wagging around the dinner table.

Pinot noir grapes grown at Flint Vineyard in Earsham, near Bungay. Picture: Chris HillPinot noir grapes grown at Flint Vineyard in Earsham, near Bungay. Picture: Chris Hill

• Flint Vineyard Pinot Noir Précoce and Norfolk White Lady

Pinot Noir Précoce is an early-ripening relative of the iconic Pinot Noir grape, which has found a very happy home at Flint Vineyard in Earsham.

Winemaker Ben Witchell takes inspiration from his time in Beaujolais when working with his Pinot, and the fruits of his labour are a soft, subtle red wine imbued with red cherry fruit, cinnamon spice and just a hint of oak.

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This kind of red wine pairs extremely well with all kinds of soft cheese from Camembert to Brie - Norfolk White Lady from Willow Farm near Wymondham is a perfect choice to pair with this pretty Précoce.

White Lady is an ewe’s milk cheese similar to brie, with a creamy texture and tangy flavour that will complement the naturally low acidity and soft tannin structure of the wine.

• Chet Valley Skylark Brut and Mrs Temple’s Binham Blue

Norfolk White Lady cheese. Photo: Matthew UsherNorfolk White Lady cheese. Photo: Matthew Usher

The majority of English sparkling wines are made using the traditional method, the famous process that is used to create Champagne and Cava.

However, Chet Valley in south Norfolk have decided to break the mould and make their bubbles using the Charmat method, which many of us will know and love as the process used to make the nation’s favourite fizz... Prosecco!

Named for the tiny, melodious birds which inhabit the skies above the Chet vineyards, the ‘Skylark’ is a youthful, refreshing drop with bright notes of peach, white blossom and pear and keen little bubbles that just don’t quit.

Sparkling wine is most traditionally used as an aperitif because the bubbles can make food pairing more complicated. However, it is also these bubbles which made the Skylark a lovely companion for a richer, more hefty cheese such as Mrs Temple’s Binham Blue, made just outside Wells-next-the-Sea. The wine’s high acidity and refreshing bubbles cut through this pungent blue cheese, making it feel as light as a feather on your palate.

Winemaker Lee Dyer of Winbirri Vineyards. Photo: Antony KellyWinemaker Lee Dyer of Winbirri Vineyards. Photo: Antony Kelly

• Burn Valley Pinot Noir Rosé and Fen Farm Dairy Baron Bigod

Based near North Creake, Burn Valley’s gloriously pink rosé is a truly elegant, characterful rosé that will delight wine lovers. Made from the Pinot Noir grape, this wine packs a big, fruity punch redolent with red berry fruit (think a delicious cocktail of strawberry, cranberry and raspberry) balanced by refreshing acidity that ensures the fruit does not become cloying.

Get your wine into the fridge and well chilled down before enjoying with charcuterie and cheese.

Mrs Temple's Binham Blue Cheese. Photo: Paul AdamsMrs Temple's Binham Blue Cheese. Photo: Paul Adams

Pick up a creamy, nutty Baron Bigod from Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay and serve cool to allow the cheese’s smooth, silky texture and the wine’s bouncy fruit to sing in perfect harmony.

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