What an unexpected journey from sommelier at Hotel Johannesburg, Germany, to winemaker at the only winery in Galveston County, Texas. After working in many departments at Haak Vineyards & Winery, Nadia Hetzel was promoted from assistant winemaker to winemaker and vineyard manager one year ago. Before she arrived in Texas she received her diploma in enology and viticulture from the University of Geisenheim, Germany. She also is a German state certified vintner—and you can taste all that experience in her wines.
Haak Winery is not just a place to go sample and buy wines. The 12-acre estate, owned by Gladys and Raymond Haak, boasts an entertainment pavilion for the many music concerts and on-site weddings. And guests can expect a full summer concert series with gourmet picnic dinners prepared by chef Lee Pierce. Seasonal events fill the calendar all year like the upcoming Port and Chocolate dinner on December 11, followed by a Holiday and Concert Shopping day. “We have an awesome deli display case here at the winery with wonderful cheeses from all over the world that pair very well with our wines,” says Hetzel.
In keeping with the flurry of holiday entertaining and wine drinking this season, we asked her about her favorite wine and cheese pairings.
Nadia’s tips on pairing Haak wine and cheese:
Dry 2009 Blanc du Bois: “Mildly acidic cheeses like Pecorino from Italy get the taste bud juices flowing and makes you crave another glass of wine. The slight nuttiness and saltiness of the cheese lets the citrus notes and bright acidity of the wine shine. The Houston Dairymaids make a mild and creamy blue cheese called Hopelessly Bleu that is so rich and elegant when paired with our Dry Blanc du Bois, you understand why some cultures consider cheese and wine the dessert. The fresh grassy notes and grapefruit finish of the dry Blanc du Bois complement the luscious creamy aromatics of the cheese. Keep in mind that Blanc du bois is a new varietal of wine (a grape from Florida origins) that is unique so there aren’t any set-in-stone rules for cheese pairings yet.”
2010 Estate Reserve Blanc du Bois: “This wine is oak aged on its lees so it has an affinity for creamy soft cheeses or mild hard cheeses. The usual Brie will work very well but when paired with a triple cream cheese such as Pave d’ Affinois, you have a combination that melts in your mouth. The creamy mouth-feel of the wine and the richness of the cheese make this a great match. The crisp acidity in the reserve Blanc brings out the meadow blossom aromatics of a true Swiss Gruyere which come from the cow’s diet of clover and other wildflowers. A young Gouda also is a good match as it compliments the oak aging with its salty flavor.”
2007 Blanc du Bois Madeira: “We are very proud of this medal decorated and Janis Robinson-rated dessert wine. It has bright honey, apricot and caramel notes that make it a dessert all on its own. When paired with rich and aromatic blue cheeses, such as Italian Gorgonzola or French Roquefort, the intensely piquant aromatics and creaminess of the cheese is enhanced by the sweetness and acidity of the Madeira. Another great match is the rich and creamy Brillat-Savarin from France. The acidity of the Madeira complements the slightly pungent and acidic flavors of the cheese and gives the impression that the cheese is melting on your tongue.”
Cheers to wine with cheese!
Availability: Haak Winery, HEB, Kroger, Spec’s, Grape Vine market and other outlets across Texas
For event details: www.haakwine.com