L’Ami du Chambertin cannot boast centuries of history as it is a relatively new cheese from a French perspective. Born, or created, in 1950 by Raymond Gaugry at their family dairy just south of Dijon, in Chevrey-Chambertin. Not being a native Burgundian, he came from the Berry province of the Loire and started out as a laitier, it was probably exciting to create something new, although based on long-lived local traditions. L’Ami du Chambertin is an Epoisses style cheese. No doubt. A washed rind cheese, or stinker if you like. Very Burgundian. It is said you can succeed with anything in France, irrespective of your origins, as long as you speak the language. No problem for this newcomer to the area, of course, so perhaps no surprise the vignerons of Chevrey- Chambertin took the cheese to their hearts and loved it, having a good bite of cheese with their own famous wine. And from this immediate love affair emerged the name. It should be said, l’Ami du Chambertin appears in three variants; au lait cru, au lait termisé and au lait pasteurisé. All the same size, about 200 grams and boxed.
The Schatz family took bigger steps. Originally from Trentino in South Tirol, they moved to South Germany and have been involved in viticulture there since 1641. Quite some time that is. Not so for our wine though. Friedrich Schatz wanted to enter the wine business, but somewhere with a better climate than South Germany. His search around various European countries ended in Ronda, Spain in 1982, well 10 kilometres outside the Ronda town. He had to start with learning the language. As a primus motor for the wine farmers in the area they have together succeeded in becoming a qualified area for growing wine, not just the sweet wines as was the tradition, but dry whites, reds and rosés. The winery is organic and bio-dynamic, situated 700 m above sea level secluded between the the Sierra de Grazalema and the Sierra de las Nieves protecting them from the strong eastern and western winds, but with hot days and cool night and a suitable influx of coolness from the Atlantic Ocean.
The link between l’Ami du Chambertin and Pinot Noir (On the Wild Side)
The red from the Chevrey-Chambertin are bold, rustic Pinots. Not necessarily silky and smooth. Which is a match in heaven for the l’Ami du Chambertin which is a rather bold cheese with opulent flavours, not to speak about the aromas. So the F. Schatz Pinot Noir is a Chevrey-Chambertin in disguise? No I would not say that. The current release 2016 is describes by the bodega as delicate with floral touches of rose petals with spicy hints of pepper and cloves on the nose and with red intense and enveloping fruit. Balsamic, mineral, with a very elegant finish in the mouth.
But, that is the 2016 vintage. There is however another wine that you will not find in their web page. The “Pinot Noir On the Wild Side”. That’s the name. Only available in Norway, a special cuvée bottled for the Norwegian market only, and a limited release – 600 bottles. The 2022 vintage, direct from the stainless steel tank after six months in there. Raw, fresh fruity and rustic with balanced acidity and intense red fruits. A wonderful wine and a match in heaven for the l’Ami du Chambertin which requires just this wine. The only other thing you may need is some country bread.
L’Ami du Chambertin (au lait cru) and F. Schatz Pinot Noir 2022 (On the Wild Side). These two together will lift the flavours to a higher unity. Not much more you need for a picnic. A country style bread. And accompanying music, perhaps: “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed. That’ll be some picnic, I promise.