3 Vintages, 3 Vineyards, 3 Cheeses: WALT Pinot Noir and Cypress Grove Winning Pairings for Picnics

WALT wines with Cypress hill cheese

When we learned that WALT Wines, a Pinot Noir producer with vineyards from Willamette to Santa Barbara, had teamed up with  Cypress Grove, makers of goat cheese like Purple Haze, to launch “The Ultimate Cheeseboard Challenge,” we knew we’d participate! We love cheese and wine pairings, because  food and wine are both “flavor dense” — both offer complex flavors and chemistry for your palate to play. 

Plus Sue makes beautiful cheeseboards to pair with the wines we feature. A few years ago, we had a private session with a San Luis Obispo Cheesemonger and we learned so much more about the magic behind pairing and tasting wine and cheese together (read about it here). 

And as today is National Wine and Cheese Day, consider celebrating with these perfect Pinot pairings! 

First, how do you pair and taste wine with cheese? 

  • Flood your mouth with wine for 5-10 seconds, assess, swallow.
  • Chew the cheese well to get the flavors and fats all over the inside of your mouth for 5-10 seconds, assess,  swallow.
  • Flood your mouth with more wine and assess.

Sometimes the wine is great but not with the cheese. Sometimes it’s great with the cheese but when you go back to the wine it’s not. Nirvana is when you go back to the wine and discover a whole new universe of flavor. That’s the goal.

And the cheeseboard challenge winner is: 

Evaluating this cheeseboard to actually pair with Pinot Noir in general and WALT’s  in particular, I’d say just don’t go there for most of it.

Here’s our notes on the wines and the pairings we did with them from the cheeseboard for the contest to pairings Sue and I did separately with the wines.

WALT Rosella’s

Cheese Board for Pinot Noir Pairings

  • Cypress Grove Goat Cheese
    Sgt. Pepper a spiced goat cheese surrounded by sun-dried tomatoes
    Psychodillic: a goat cheese with dill atop a bed of fresh fennel fronds
    Purple Haze: fennel and lavender flavor this goat cheese which Sue ringed with sliced organic strawberries
  • Camembert 
  • Salami, pepperoni, and proscuitto rosettes
  • Grilled jalapeno cheddar sausage from Watkins meat market
  • Duck liver mousse pate
  • Nuts: organic smoked almonds, organic toasted Thai chili, roasted hazelnuts with dried cranberries
  • Green olives
  • Sue’s homemade gouda with thyme crackers 

WALT Pinot Noir with additional pairings

  • On a camping trip near Yosemite, we paired the youngest wine with grilled rack of lamb and roasted eggplant; so good since the bright fruit cuts through the rich meat: 
    2019 WALT “Rosella’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County CA

  • Sue paired these next two wines also with Watkins Ranch beef burger topped with grilled onions and onions and then blue cheese on top, which she found to be perfect pairings with the wines:
    2017 WALT “Clos Pepe” Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, CA
    2014 WALT “The Corners” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, CA

WALT Rosella’s

2019 WALT “Rosella’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County CA

ABV 14.8%
Sample for my review

Color: Very pretty raspberry, cranberry, translucent, pink with a touch of violet in the rim, very pale rim, 

Aroma: Raspberry, bright fruit, wild strawberry, carnation, cinnamon, cloves, sandalwood, very appealing nose, once opened up, roses, potpourri, 

Palate: Strawberry, raspberry, tart bright fruit, not much earth, fruit on the finish, nice richness, very feminine, pretty, this wine is leveling its youthfulness, nice minerality on the finish, great minerality in this wine. 

Pairing: Fantastic with the St.Pepper, the subtle spices in the cheese pair nicely with the cheese, the sun-dried tomatoes pair perfect with the wine. The psycadillic is alright with the wine, but the St. Pepper is so much better, The strawberry lavender with the wine is heavenly, especially with a slice of strawberry, so much to enjoy between the cheese board and the wine. The duck liver mousse pate is very nice with the wine, the creamy camembert and the pate are perfect with the wine. The Thai chili nuts are a great companion with the wine. The grilled jalapeno cheddar sausage is a creamy rich flavorful companion with the wine. The richness of the gouda thyme cracker is also fabulous with the wine. The acidity in the wine loves the richness in the food.

2017 WALT “Clos Pepe” Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills

2017 WALT “Clos Pepe” Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, CA

ABV 14.8%
Sample for my review

Color: Ruby, translucent, medium – density, pale pink rim

Aroma: violets, forest floor, pine tar, raspberry, very earthen, herbal, mint, pencil shavings, the graffite and the wood, as it opens up all of the aforementioned traits are even more intense, 

Palate: Interesting minerals up front, clay, slate, fresh raspberry and wild strawberry, putty with fruit on the finish

Pairing: For me it was all about the crackers, I love these crackers, but it is so perfect with the wine. Great with the Camembert, perfect with the pate, yum yum, St. Pepper is great with the wine also loving the sun-dried tomatoes. Yummy with the psycadillic as well. I don’t like dill and I thought it was very nice. The purple haze atop a slice of strawberry was such a perfect pair, the finish is so simpatico. The wine also is great with the salami, the salami is rich and full of herbs, the acidity in the pinot cuts the richness and brings forth a perfect matrimony. 

WALT The Corners

2014 WALT “The Corners” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, CA

ABV 15.1%
Sample for my review

Color: Garnet with a brickish rim, medium density

Aroma: Earthy mushroom, loamy soil, rich, vanilla, sarsaparilla, barnyard, mushroom umami, not a lot of fruit, plum, 

Palate: Red stone fruit, cherry, plum, smooth and velvety, fresh raspberry finish, sechuan pepper finish, nice acidity, great texture, beautiful richness, 

Pairing: There is a nice sweetness to this wine which loves the salt and fat in the salami. It makes the salami almost candy like, making the wine rich and flavorful, you think the salami is good? try the pepperoni, it was fabulous loving the spicy flavors bringing out rich fruit and sweetness in the wine. The spicy jalapeno cheddar sausage was great in flavor with the wine, but the wine did not tame the sausage very well and became quite spicy. The St. Peppers worked because the spice was tamed by the creamy richness of the cheese and highlighted the fruit in the wine. Very fun with spicy Thai chili cashews, hitting all of the important notes: creamy, spicy, flavorful, salty, Cashew chicken using these nuts would be great with the wine. Yellow or green curry might also work. The Psycadillic is nice and creamy with the wine matching the sarsaparilla in the nose. The cracker was a bit too salty with the wine overpowering the subtlety and taking over the fruit in the wine. Our perfect pairing on the cheese tray was the Purple haze on a strawberry slice, the flavors of the wine are in perfect harmony with the cheese and the strawberry. The procuitto becomes quite salty with the wine which makes the wine quite sweet. The duck liver pate was nice, and possibly a bit rich, but a perfect companion on the finish. 

WALT Pinot Noir


WALT and HALL wines are not without controversy. While the wines may score high with points, as environmentalists, their record is so dismal that I almost did not publish this post. 


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