Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – March 07, 2012
Tonight we have two classic cheeses which pair well with full bodied red wines: Morbier and Manchego.
Morbier (France, raw cow's milk, pasteurized, semi-soft) - a versatile cheese which goes with fruity whites and champagnes as well as lush Cote' du Rhones and most Syrah bases wines. Morbier was originally made by the cheesemakers of Comte' from high mountain pastures using the curd of two milkings, 12 hour apart, then separated by sterile ash, which was used to prevent a rind from forming on the first layer of the milk. Today a vegetable ash is used but is purely decorative. Morbier is a mild cheese with a subtle and sweet, yet marvelously rich flavor. The rind is naturally rubbed which produces its pungent aroma. Morbier is one of the few soft cheeses that go well with big Rhones, and has become a LeTastevin favorite. Last tasted March 10,2010.
Queso Manchego, DO, Gran Valle de Montecelo (Spain, sheep's milk, firm, aged 12 months, artisanal version) - the quintessential representation of a Spanish sheep's milk's cheese, which is a classic pairing with a full bodied red wine. The regions name, La Mancha, which comes from the Arab word for "waterless", was given during the Moorish conquest of Spain in the Middle ages. Cervantes described Manchego cheese in Don Quixote in 1605 as "harder than if it had been made of sand and lime," although our version is not that hard. It is produced on the high plains of La Mancha in central Spain, and is one of the world's best known cheeses. Wheels receive a minimum of two months aging but the cheese aged 12-14 months displays a concentrated flavor that come only with age. A young Manchego is mild, even bland, while the best aged ones develop depth of flavor with that pleasant bite and underlying sweetness characteristic of the finest sheep's milk cheeses. With age, the cheese becomes more brittle but maintains a creamy character with a briny nuttiness and increasing sharpness; the darker the rind, the older the cheese. The best Manchego has an olive oil rub on the rind after aging. Much of the Manchego sold in the states is aged 3 or 6 months, but it is best after 12 months. Surprisingly, it was last tasted at Le Tastevin in June, 1997, according to club records. Page last updated: December 18, 2016 (EB)