Chaucer's Sparkling Mead
Chaucer's Sparkling Mead (6.7% alcohol by volume) is a semi-dry sparkling mead brewed with natural orange and ginger essences. With Will Studd's Lec Duc Vacherin cheese, a soft surface-ripened, washed rind cow's milk cheese form the French Franche Comte region's mountains. The cheese is wrapped in spruce bark, giving it a hint of the forest. My wheel is at its best - right on the best by date. In order of intensity, the mead smells of orange, honey and ginger and has a clean fermentation character. It is brilliant straw in the glass with streams of slowly rising bubbles after an initial burst of effervescence. The mead starts with rich mildly sweet honey, orange zest and ginger and there is some drying from the ginger on the finish with a slight and very pleasant ginger burn and a hint of orange zest bitter. There is also a hint of drying, astringent tannins. The cheese and the mead pair like two lovers - different yet very complementary. The Vacherin Le Duc brings in woody forest flavors, mushrooms and some spices with a hint of pine and the honey, ginger and orange flavors in the mead evoke the kind of sides one one might serve with this cheese - perhaps an orange marmalade, a ginger jelly and a small pot of honey to drizzle on top of the cheese. This is a marvelous mead on its own. The complexity and subtlety of flavors definitely take it out of the category of an alcopop geared to the late teenage demographic. I rate it 83 and I rate the pairing with the cheese 88.