Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses - March 11, 2009

The cheeses are from Whole Foods in West Bloomfield and the Holiday Market in Royal Oak. The French "epi" loaves are once again from The Give Thanks Bakery in Rochester.

Tomme de Savoie ("wheel" from Savoie) - from eastern France, in the beautiful region south of Lake Geneva on the Swiss border. It is a semi-firm cheese made from Raw cow's milk and has a low fat content of 29%. Savoie is a mild cheese similar in taste to Sainte-Nectaire, but is not as soft. Tommes are 3.5 pound disks with a rustic, gray-brown fuzzy inedible rind dappled with gray, white and gold molds. The flavor is generally milder than the earthy, pungent aroma would suggest. Savoie is a simple, peasant-like cheese, completely unrefined and delicious. This straw-colored cheese with tiny holes has a buttery, mild nutty and mushroomy flavor, and is a great match for Red Burgundy and Rhone wines which are produced nearby.

Appenzeller Extra Aged - Raw cow's milk mountain cheese with 45% fat content, from the eastern region of Switzerland. It is a sharper cheese than Emmentaler or Gruyere with a fruity tang characteristic of washed-rind cheeses. The new cheese is bathed in a secret mix of white wine or cider, brine, and pepper and herbs. The best ones are extra-aged for more than six months, such as ours. Appenzeller has an aroma of roasted hazelnut and brown butter which seems to explode on the tongue with complex sweet fruity and smoky flavors, and has a long finish. This is one of Ron's favorite cheeses and one of the greatest Swiss cheeses of all. Interestingly, Switzerland is the world's largest importer of Burgundy wines.

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