Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on the Cheeses – January 13, 2010

"…and now for something completely different!"

Rogue Creamery, 50th anniversary, Special Reserve, Blue Cheese (raw cow's milk, aged at least 90 days) - a Le Tastevin first!  This cheese was made by Rogue Creamery's current owners, David Gremmels and Cary Bryant, in honor of its 50th anniversary, and was made solely for distribution by Whole Foods. It will never be available again. Rogue Creamery was started by Ig Valla, known as the godfather of U.S. Artisan Cheeses and they make the most distinctive American Blue Cheeses available.  Their Rogue River Blue is their most acclaimed and most scarce as well as their most expensive cheese. It is made in the autumn from late season milk, wrapped in pear leaves and soaked in pear brandy. The 50th Anniversary Cheese is a creamy and buttery cheese, but with much of the blue cheese flavor of the acclaimed "River" version, in a milder form minus its aggressiveness and saltiness and without the pears. It is a mellow cheese similar to the famous Cashel Blue Cheese from England. Moist, creamy and semisoft with a great melt in your mouth texture like Cashel, it has the subtle smooth flavor of the traditional Oregon Blue Cheese.  All of Rogue's cheeses are from the milk of grass-fed cows.  While the "River" calls for a Sauterne or a Port, the milder "Anniversary" pairs well with sweet white wines and California Cabernets.

4-year Aged Gouda (Holland, raw cow's milk) - a miracle of flavor. This is the final example in our series of different styles of Gouda over the past several tastings.  Aged Gouda is very hard and Amber-colored and has a perfumy, Scotch-Whiskey kind of aroma, both sharp and sweet at the same time. While young Gouda is quite bland, aged Gouda is quite delicious. Properly aged it is hard, grainy, salty (though not as salty as Parmesan or Edam) tangy, and sharp with a hint of Butterscotch on the finish. If you like a firm, dense, crystalline almost crumbly cheese with deep mouthwatering flavors and a lingering aftertaste, this is the one for you. Despite its sharpness, it goes well with many red wines, including Cabernets, Merlots and Italians.

If you find these cheeses too strong or not to your liking, I brought a backup Cheese - Jarlsberg Swiss Gruyere - a very mild and mellow cheese.

The cheeses are from Whole Foods in West Bloomfield.  The French epi-loaves are once again from The Give Thanks Bakery in Rochester.

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