Let's get down to plain English. Ch,evre means goat and, whether it's kidding around the hills of France or of America, it's responsible for some of the world's great cheeses. Great enough to match great wines. One recent indulgence comes to mind: a mature white burgundy, the '73 Corton Charlemagne, Bonneau du Martray, and a moist cylindrical ch,evre from the French region of Berry. What a smooth combination that was.
But enough of foreigners. Tomorrow is the Fourth. Let us consider American goats and American grapes. In California's Sonoma County, Laura Chenel makes goat cheeses, California Ch,evre she calls them, as good as anybody's--and as expensive. Her cheeses, plain or fancied-up in recipes, are praised by California's smartest culinary set. Tomorrow, have an American picnic with Ridge's '82 White Zinfandel, $6, fruity and finishing dry, and a creamy fresh goat cheese, perhaps one which has been marinated in olive oil and rosemary or thyme. Or try a softish merlot, the '80 Franciscan, $8, with a riper cheese that has been grilled over mesquite for a couple of minutes.
Goat-in-a-coat is an addictive appetizer, credited to another Californian, Scottie McKinney. The coat is a pastry of fresh chMevre, butter and flour. It is wrapped around a small, mild, herbed or peppered chmevre, brushed with beaten egg and baked at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or so, until golden. It needs a light-bodied, thirst-quenching wine to counteract the natural cloyingness, such as the crisp, lightly fruity '81 Very Dry Chenin Blanc of R & J Cook, $4.50.
The goatkeepers of Virginia's Shenandoah County supply Carole Watman in Strasburg with her milk. She sells the fresh, salty cheese in large tubs to shops and restaurants, who in turn sell it by the pound or use it in sauces and fillings. Her own sauce recipe for pasta is a wicked-sounding blend of the cheese, crMeme fraiche, a little olive oil or melted butter, herbs and black pepper, all gently warmed. A sauce like that will stand up to a fuller red wine like the '80 Cabernet Sauvignon of Meredyth, $9.
Wine Discovery: "Discovered and bottled by" is not the standard line on a wine label, but it does more or less cover the activities of California's Belvedere Winery. Under the name Wine Discovery, the partnership at Belvedere has found a way to market the surplus wines of well-known wineries--at a much lower price. Fifty percent lower, they claim. The names of the suppliers are never listed. All we see on the label is the region of origin, but, to give you some idea of the quality, the '81 Gewurztraminer comes from Napa's Winery Lake, better known for growing America's most expensive chardonnay grapes.
Each bottling is handled separately from start to finish. The '80 Chardonnay being sold in Virginia is a northern California appellation, whereas the '82 Chardonnay, in the District at MacArthur Liquors, is from Mendocino County. Each is a reasonable $5.
The current cabernet sauvignon is an easy-drinking non- vintage Monterey County, actually a blend of '79, '80 and a little '81. It sells for only $4 in Virginia and $5 in Washington. Virginians can also buy that Winery Lake Gewurztraminer for $6 and an '80 Sauvignon Blanc from San Luis Obispo County for $5. If the '83 crop is another large one, and at flowering it looks likely, Wine Discovery's "negociant" idea could well be a model for California wine marketing in the mid-'80s.