Rivesaltes Grenat wines–blood ruby red–are aged for a minimum of nine months, like a fresh little baby jesus. Paired with Fourme d’Ambert it resembles as we say here in France le petit Jesus en culotte de velours.
Fourme d’Ambert is one old cheese, so revered and venerated (with a lovely stinky French Cheese bouquet) even the Romans used to gorge on it. Made from raw cow’s milk and aged for 28 days out of Auvergne, it’s known for its distinct, cylindrical shape.
Although it has jumped through the various hoops of corporate production and being recognized with an AOC (controlled designation of origin) in 2002, recent artisanal production has been using raw milk, and four farms produce about 35 tons of the raw stinky goodness.
Pairing it with Rivesaltes–an appellation for the historic sweet wines of eastern Roussillon, in the deep south of the French Pyrenees near Cataluña–is a great choice. This area is well-known for its sweet vin doux naturel wines made from Grenache of all varieties (Noir, Blanc and Gris). Vin doux naturel are an aperitif or digestif wine differing from ice wines in that vins doux naturels are made by mutage, a process of stopping must fermenting while a high level of natural sweetness exists. High levels of residual sugar means high alcohol (between 15% and 17% ABV)–this Grenat is sweet and packs a wallop.