Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – October 16, 2013

Tonight we will sample two full-flavored, old standby firm cheeses from Plum Market and Whole Foods which pair well with most full flavored red wines. The baguettes are from Whole Foods.

[Note: The inclusion of White Burgundy in this winetasting was unexpected. A good pairing with these would have a cheese like Fromage d'Affinois. See January 14, 2009 cheeses.].

Beemster Classic XO Premium Dutch Gouda (aged 26 months) is a miracle of flavor. Over the years, we have tasted many variations of Gouda, aged from 6 months to 5 years. The cow's milk for Beemster Cheese comes from an area called the Beemster Polder. Four centuries ago, the land was under water, but was reclaimed from the North Sea although it is still 20 feet below sea level. Today's Beemster cheeses are made using the original techniques and recipes employed by the founders of the dairy co-op over one hundred years ago. Beemster XO (extra old) is the most mature cheese in their line. The large wheels are encased in a plastic coating to keep the mold from growing on the rind. Beemster XO aged Gouda is 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), tangy, and sharp with a hint of butterscotch on the finish. Despite its firmness, it is creamy on the palate with a long finish. Beemster Gouda goes well with many red wines.

Piave is from the area north of Venice and is a full favored cheese, hard and rough on the surface and sweetly nutty underneath. Ages of the cheese range from six to fourteen months. Our version is the more mature Vecchio version which is aged 14 months. With its dry, crunchy texture, its flavors of tropical fruit and almonds, and its long sweet finish, it has been likened to the king of Italian cheeses - Parmigiano-Reggiano. Piave shows the beginnings of crystallization but is not as hard and crumbly or as salty as Parmigiano. Piave has an affinity for crusty bread and both red and white wine, going very well with German Rieslings and full bodied red wines such as Barbaresco, Shiraz or fruity Merlot.

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