Cheese Pairing: Pont l'Evêque with crusty baguette and Norman cider or Merlot

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This week's cheese pairing is Pont l'Evêque with crusty baguette and Norman cider or Merlot. Pont l'Evêque is a small, square-shaped washed-rind cheese from Normandy, and is one of the world's oldest cheeses. There is a reference to the cheese in a document from the 12th century, which states that "a good table always finishes with a dessert d'angelot" (Angelot may have been the historical name for this cheese). It is a soft, rich cow's milk cheese, whose unctuous and full-flavored paste includes notes of cooked cauliflower.

Again, a crusty baguette is a perfect foil for the smooth paste. Norman cider is a great choice of beverage, first because of the regional connection and second because the sweet tartness of the apples will pair nicely with the savoriness of the cheese. For that reason I might also try pairing it with Calvados.

As for a wine pairing, French Cheese recommends Condrieu, which has fruity notes from the Viognier grape. I haven't tried a Merlot with Pont L'Evêque; the currant/black cherry flavor and low astringency are definite points in its favor, but I'd be a little wary of pairing a relatively bold wine with such a bold cheese.

What do you readers think?