Rheingau Riesling from JB Becker and Spicherhalde mountain cheese

AlpenblickIt was summer, it was hot, the view was fantastic – in July I finally managed to spend a few days in the Allgäu, Bavaria’s cheese lands bordering on western Austria, and climb up to Alpe Spicherhalde, one of the best alpine dairies around. Well, I admit, it’s not that much of a climb, as the dairy is at 1478m and the ascent starts in the small mountain village of Balderschwang, at 1044m… But still, it felt more than ok to order some bread and cheese when I arrived.

Spicherhalde IsabelleThe Vögel family stems from Krumbach and they have been summering their cows up here for years, 31 beautiful animals, all of them with their horns, which is sadly rather an exception. Their milk is made into cheese very much the traditional way using wooden equipment and whey cultures, and the resulting cheese (brought to the US and UK by Kaeskuche) is very fine indeed and full of character. I met and chatted with Isabelle who helps her father-in-law with the cheese making and who took me down to their cave. Needless to say that I continued my hike with a large chunk of their previous year’s cheese!

HajoSpicherhalde1Fortunately this kind of mature alpine stuff is quite robust. I had the last bit of my cheesy Allgäu souvenir some days ago, and very good it still was, in spite of summer temperatures and transport. It kept excellent company with a bottle of dry Riesling from the Rheingau, the 2012 Walluf Trocken from Hajo Becker, that is Weingut J.B. Becker in Walluf. One couldn’t really call the wine mature, but neither was it a nervous youngster, and that suited the cheese very well. Hajo allows his wines lots of time keeping them in old, large wooden casks, so that the acidity is very present, but never hard or green. In a way the wine took over the role of the fresh mountain air the cheese had been enjoying most of its life on the  Spicherhalde. And as usual, with wine and cheese flirting and dancing happily along, Heinzelcheese was happy too…

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